AL East, Baseball, DeMaurice Smith, Football, Joe Maddon, MLB, New York Yankees, NFL, Roger Goodell, Sports, Sports Commentary, Tampa Bay Rays, Uncategorized

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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Baseball, Brett Favre, Bud Selig, Casey Anthony trial, Jose Baez, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Roger Clemens, Sports, Sports & Social commentary, Sports Commentary, Uncategorized

It’s Now The Talk Of The Town ……….


It’s Now The Talk Of The Town ………

So even with the aftermath and idiocy of what has taken place within the Ohio State athletics department it would appear that the stupidity of the school’s AD Gene Smith simply knows no boundaries as to his own idiocy ! . In his most recent public statement Smith made it clear that the he would like to see the return of Jim Tressel to the realms of coaching within collegiate football. Unless I’m mistaken were it not for the actions of the beleaguered and embarrassed coach the school might not have encountered the numerous problems created because of his web of lies , deceit and total lack of accountability by himself , his coaching staff and the players under his tutelage . Now with the school having to vacate all of their victories from the 2010 season as well their Sugar Bowl appearance victory it seems rather asinine that Gene Smith would actually seek to try and negate the damage done by Jim Tressel . Less we forget also , in the aftermath of Tressel’s departure the school would lose Terrelle Pryor as he sought to forgo his final two years of collegiate football. The player has made himself available for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft and become a client of uber-agent Drew Rosenhaus .

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Well last night at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles with all of the glad handing and back slapping was about to take place as ESPN staged the ESPY Awards at the famed auditorium. For all of the pomp and ceremony that was about to be thrust upon the viewers of the event nothing could be more self serving than this pompous and rather odious garbage that simply gives the broadcast outlet another chance to show how bereft of credibility and creativity within this particular organization. With a slew of professional as well as collegiate athletes on display awaiting to hear their names to be announced for a variety of nominations in several sports’ categories . Suffice to say that this is meant to be the sports world’s answer to the Oscars and as we can all bear witness to that particular event gives us every reason to ask the question …….. why ? . From my own personal standpoint the whole event is a complete waste of time and merely a way for the broadcast outlet to air a few hours athletes thanking each other and their maker while actually saying not a God damn thing ! Mind you host Seth Meyers in part made the event memorable with his lambasting of the Miami Heat and the mere fact that the team’s ” Big Three” tend to show up and play only three quarters of a game . Not to be left out of this also were the members of the New Jersey Nets and in particular Kris Humphries whose upcoming to nuptials to reality star Kim Kardashian could very well be the closest thing to the receiving of a ring that the player is ever likely to get that is not associated with the winning of the NBA title .

But really is anyone interested in who ESPN believes ought to be “The Male Athlete of The Year “ much less “The Best NBA Player” ? I can assure you of this if a poll were to be taken of 1,000 people on the streets there wouldn’t be a conclusive result bearing out any of the conclusions derived from last night’s winners much less some of the nominees in question !

With the Roger Clemens’ trial now set to take place it was interesting to read the statement made by the player’s chief legal counsel Rusty Hardin who asserts that Clemens would not be taking the stand in his defense trial for perjury and the obstruction of justice. With the prosecution having lined up litany of current and former players to testify and prove their case it remains to be seen what course this federal trial will take . Certainly the Justice Department wouldn’t have pressed ahead with this trial having indicted the player on the aforementioned charges . Amongst the prosecution’s chief witnesses are Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens’ former personal trainer Brian McNamee . The latter for whom credibility will most certainly come into question and whose own testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee left a great deal to be desired at the time. The player , himself wasn’t without his own problems given his own testimony to the very same governmental committee .

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Rusty Hardin (L), attorney for Roger Clemens, smiles as he leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)


It seems so totally asinine to think that the MLB hierarchy would seek or should I say absolve itself all responsibility when it comes to dealing with the players who have as such brought the game into disrepute . But when one considers the mere fact that Bud Selig has failed to show a backbone nothing at all should come as a surprise ! We have the so called purists who now simply believe that the game is still at its very best in all of its guises , from the competitiveness of the divisions to the financial well being of the teams . Perhaps when the team owners and general managers as well as the MLBPA (union) have begun to pull their heads out of each others’ assholes to wake up and smell the coffee then perhaps we may well see all of the parties come to some sort of common accord rather than their continued buffoonery !


I decided rather than heading home last night to stay overnight at the girlfriend’s home in Orlando . The fact that I commute from my home (distance of 56 miles) in Central Polk County most mornings to head into the downtown area of the city was of no real joy over the past few weeks , given the animosity on display with protesters outside the courthouse while the Casey Anthony trial took place . In the aftermath of the acquittal of the defendant and the over the top celebrations that took place with Jose Baez and his associates’ after their client’s acquittal by the jury left a great deal to be desired . What might have been even more contemptible was the mere fact that Baez was seen high five-ing an associate at a local bar across the road from the courthouse , with all of this being caught on camera by the national press and paparazzi . The lawyer himself was fully aware of this but I would have thought Jose Baez having an adjunct office a mere two miles away from the courthouse it would have been prudent to undertake the celebrations there and away from the prying eyes of the media and public at large ! In doing so those celebrations along with the now angered throng of public protesters who had gathered at the courthouse can only have angered those present and who witnessed the lawyers’ celebrations. I am not about to decry Jose Baez for his antics but I would merely point out that he may well now have to deal with some backlash from those who may well have felt that his client got away with murder .


At the end of the day this was a trial that bore the resemblance of an idiotic charade from start to finish ! The prosecution flubbed this case and were made to look like bumbling idiots by simply relying far too much on forensic evidence that did little to help their case . Instead , rather than seeking to attack the character and of the defendant and the numerous lies told by her family members . with each and very passing moment they relied far too much on a group of professionals in various scientific fields of forensic pathology and medicine to brow beat and bore the jurors to sleep but also leave the judge presiding over the case with a sense of deja-vu. (Think of the OJ Simpson murder trial all over again and remember how that charade ended ? ) But herein lies the caveat to this case all along , the jurors had been left with no other option but to find the defendant not guilty because there was little to suggest all along that the Casey Anthony had deliberately gone out of her way to murder her child, Haley Anthony . However , what was abundantly clear to anyone with an ounce of common sense were the mere the facts as they were being presented by the prosecution should have warranted that the defendant should have gone on trial for manslaughter , rather than first degree murder . But you would now be hard pressed to find anyone within the State Attorney’s Office (9th District) willing to admit that they had made a mistake in how the case presented and tried . The only saving grace in this all may well be the fact that there will be a civil suit brought against Casey Anthony by several groups who assisted in the search of her missing child , for which we now know that she the was the victim of an untimely death at far too young an age .

I can’t but wonder what will now be achieved by the state shutdown in Minnesota by Governor Mark Dayton . The state now has a $ 5 billion budget shortfall and with the shutdown has come the furloughing of state employees and in some cases the firing of state employees . Mark Dayton has had to contend with two bipartisan legislative chambers who if anything have only their self interests at heart, rather dealing with many of the acute issues Minnesota state now faces. .

Now while this idiocy continues Zygi Wilf and his associate partners who own the Minnesota Vikings have to be wary of the fact that the organization will face a hard task in persuading the state legislature that they need to pass the bill that will finance the building of the proposed $1.55 billion state of the art facility for the team. I’ve always found it rather bewildering to think that the NFL while having a fund to assist the teams in the building or refurbishment of their stadiums , in large part the majority of team owners will seek to obtain assistance from the various governmental agencies in the cities where they reside . Mind you this particular endeavor takes place in each of the four major professional sports. Consider this also , NASCAR’s executives were aided to the tune of some $250 million by President Barack Obama’s now infamous “stimulus package” .


Through an affiliate corporation ISC (International Speedway Corporation Inc) the governing body of the sport was aided with those funds to refurbish several of the race tracks that they own across the country . Considering the dearth of dumb ass spending that is undertaken by the federal government on pork barrel issues” that simply favors the pet projects of the members of the House and Senate should anyone be at all surprised by this ? I can only surmise that it is somehow better to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on several race tracks than it is to actually put either more police officers on the streets or even make sure that more money is steered towards education ? God knows nothing would indicate or suggest otherwise that the country is well on the way to not producing a highly intelligent and capable work force for the future than to have Bubba and Cletus chewing on tobacco and telling you why it is that Lil’ E and Smoke are two biggest things to happen in the sport since Dale Earnhardt Sr died . I don’t know that is meant to be enlightening for the public in general nor do I favor the idiocy then shown and still being shown by the current administration and two legislative chambers of Congress !

Clearly if the Minnesota Vikings are not able to persuade the state legislature that it is imperative for them to approve this finance bill then it is quite clear that the organization may well have to relocate . Zygi Wilf and his partners having hired a lobbyist to present their case and now must await on a decision as to the course that the vote will take . But given the current economic environment and the mere fact that the projections of the costs of this facility had sky rocketed from its original estimate of $1 billion to the now $1.5 billion it is hard to see how the state can actually justify this as being a prudent way to spend money when it faces such a massive deficit. Mark Dayton , the Democratic governor of the state has implored the members of both legislative chambers that cuts have to be made and also that some taxes will have to be increased but as usual with all issues as it relates to taxes and spending one can never find the right answer to the problem !


It does seem strange however that while Conservatives are so vehemently opposed to tax increases , they are also against cutting the tax loopholes that have assisted major corporations in deferring their taxes by up to five years and at the same time one loophole that is often overlooked ………… it is where it now allows US corporations to reincorporate oversees and totally avoid paying any form US income tax at all . At the same time those very same corporations conduct business as usual within the continental United States unperturbed by any legislation by the Congress . And though I feel that the Democrats are just as blatantly stupid as their rivals when it comes to dealing with the economy it does give credence to the very fact that neither side has a clear idea as to what actually needs to be done !


The Minnesota Vikings to my mind are better served in actually getting their act together on the playing field rather than looking for the building of a multi purpose facility wherein they will no doubt over charge the fans for the privilege of attending their home games . And given last year’s implosion (6-10 record ) by the team and all of drama that surrounded Brett Favre is there anyone now at all willing to take any type of odds on how this team will now fare this upcoming season ? I would dare say that the newly installed head coach Leslie Frazier and his coaching staff are in a for another tumultuous ride . In the aftermath of last season’s implosion and meltdown with all of the drama and idiocy of seeing four veteran members of this roster go to Favre’s home and plead with the veteran to make one more return to the NFL might well have been one of the more asinine events to have taken place within the league in years . For the life of me I have yet to hear anyone explain succinctly why it is that they felt that the Vikings were even being mentioned as worthy favorites for the Superbowl to begin with ! Especially those analysts within ESPN and Fox who have simply looked upon Favre so favorably as if he were some sort of deity . I tend to wonder whether or not Mark Schlereth and Chris Mortensen can for one moment take their lips away from Favre’s ass without suffocating because it looks as if sucking the crap produced from the player’s anus might well be life sustaining for the duo !

Given the failure of the team last season and the very fact that there seems to be no consensus as to who the starting quarterback will be it is imperative that Leslie Frazier has an idea as that player it will be when the team undertakes its start to the season . The choices are Rhett Bomar , Tarvaris Jackson , Christian Ponder , Patrick Ramsey and Joe Webb . Of that quintet of starting quarterbacks Ramsey is the most experienced but the nine year veteran , shown that given the chance to start he hasn’t the command or leadership qualities to enhance the play of the team. Joe Webb if anything when given the chance showed that he was capable but the mobile quarterback isn’t something that seems to be endearing to Leslie Frazier and his staff. And though I don’t believe that Christian Ponder would appear to the answer to the Vikings’ problems at the position I do somehow get the feeling that if all else fails he will be thrown in at the deep end !

From an offensive standpoint this team has all of the prerequisite weapons to be competitive . And with the likes of Sidney Rice , Adrian Peterson , Visanthe Shiancoe , Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin . Defensively the team has had its problems but if anything that can situation can be put right by defensive coordinator Fred Pagac .


In the ensuing weeks as the NFL stoppage continues it will be very interesting to see what transpires concerning the Minnesota Vikings and the decision that will be made by the state legislature . So much is made about the economic downturn but it appears that even when the hardest hit are the impoverished somehow it seems to be the most wealthy amongst us who always end up profiting from the shambles and disaster that is left in the wake of such an event . Care to think how Zygi Wilf will end up a winner even if the vote sought isn’t in his club’s favor ? Needless to say that every assistance will be given to the team by the league should the Vikings seek to relocate or perhaps use a temporary facility while some form of compromise can be reached . Funny that sort of situation never seems to arise for the most desperate amongst us !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have with regard to the points raised within this piece ? Simply leave a comment as you’d deem fit and thanks as always for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !


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

Contact tophatal ……. rapptu@gmail.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) From left to right Ohio State university President Dr E Gordon Gee , former head football coach Jim Tressel and the school’s athletic director Gene Smith addressing the press in light of the scandal that embroiled the university in several scandals. This led to NCAA sanctions will cost the school multiple scholarships as well as having to vacate of the football team’s victories for the 2010 season. AP Photo ……….

(2) Members of the Dallas Mavericks (L-R) Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, J.J. Barea, Brian Cardinal, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler, pose with their ESPY Award back stage after being named “Best Team” at the 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, California, July 13, 2011. Reuters / AFP ……

(3) Seth Myers cast members of NBC’s Saturday Night Live and who hosted the 2011 ESPN ESPY’s award from the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles . AP Photo / Chris Howard ….

(4) WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 14: Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens (R) leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs . Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images …

(5) Rusty Hardin (L), attorney for Roger Clemens, smiles as he leaves the U.S. District Court after the judge declared a mistrial, on July 14, 2011 in Washington, DC. The judge presiding over Clemens’ perjury trial declared a mistrial over statements introduced to the jury by the prosecutor that were not suppose to be heard. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner was on trial for making false statements, perjury and obstructing Congress when he testified about steroid use during a February 2008 inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Affairs. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images …..

(6) MINNEAPOLIS, MN – MAY 16: NFL players lawyer Barbara P. Berens (L), linebacker Ben Leber(notes) of the Minnesota Vikings, NFL players lawyer James Quinn and former NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith leave court-ordered mediation at the U.S. Courthouse on May 16, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mediation was ordered after a hearing on an antitrust lawsuit filed by NFL players against the NFL owners that followed a breakdown of labor talks between the two in March. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images …

(7) Vikings owner Zygi Wilf met with Gov. Mark Dayton ( foreground) on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. The two met concerning a deal for which the team owner envisions a new facility to be built at the taxpayers’ expense within the state of Minnesota . This scenario has changed vastly from what had been envisaged by the governor . Courtesy of MPR Photo/Tim Nelson ……

(8) Kurt Coleman (42) of the Philadelphia Eagles tackles Visanthe Shiancoe (81) of the Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Vikings would defeat the Eagles 24-14 .—- Getty Images North America / Jim McIsaac …..

(9) Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick, left, is tackled by Minnesota Vikings’ Antoine Winfield in the first half of an NFL football game, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Michael Perez ……

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NB: At the time of the completion of this piece it was announced that a mistrial had been declared in the Roger Clemens’ trial . To read more about this simply click on the link provided . Judge declares mistrial in Clemens’ case

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


The Story Itself Says A Lot About The Player

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan aka tophatal ……………………

Picture and slide show details below .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Rodriguez, Allan 'Bud' Selig, Baseball, Milton Bradley, MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, Sports, Sports & Social commentary, Sports Commentary

You’ve Got To Be Able To Walk Before You Can Run ……


You’ve Got To Be Able To Walk Before You Can Run

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There are certain things that we all tend to know will happen during the course of the MLB season . The Pittsburgh Pirates will either implode at some point during their schedule and that Milton Bradley is liable to go off into an inane rant and subsequently be cut from his team or be looking to lay allay his troubles elsewhere by blaming others for his own petulant and infantile behavior .

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Slide show for your perusal .

Well it’s that time once again and the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to upset the apple cart . Low and behold but this team is actually playing a brand of baseball that seems to be exciting the fans at the home games played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania . It would appear with the Pirates making their presence felt within the NL Central things could very well be looking up for the organization. Without a winning season since 1992 the thought was that this season we’d see some sort of improvement of this team as part of the newly installed Clint Hurdle’s plan. As manager of this team along with his coaching staff it was felt that this young and inexperienced roster would take time to gel and become competitive . Certainly their draft for this last year and previous seasons is now coming to fruition with several players making some valuable contributions to the team’s start. And though it’s early days yet this season could provide to be something special if the Pirates are able to challenge the likes of the Cincinnati Reds and St Louis Cardinals within the NL Central .

With an 18-17 mark the Pittsburgh Pirates sits two games behind the division leading Cardinals and a mere one game adrift of the Reds . And over the next three days with a home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers we’ll certainly begin to know a great deal more about the Pirates and their actual mindset as to the direction that they’re going in as a team and as an organization . GM Neal Huntington , principal managing partner Bob Nutting and the rest of the front office over course of their tenure have painted this organization as one that has struggled to remain solvent financially but also as a competitive organization. And now even in spite of the league hierarchy’s wholly benevolent tax sharing revenue scheme the Pirates much like many of the other small market teams continue to plead poverty. Baseball’s hierarchy , the team owners and the self absorbed MLBPA continue to live beyond their means , with the rather outrageous salaries being paid to the players . The game is well on its way to the self destruct mode and sooner or later the fans can simply watch it implode because this is much is certain, it’s now to late to back this train up as it heads toward that collision into a wall.

It’s my own belief that the Pittsburgh Pirates still have a long way to go before they can be seen not only a credible contender within their own division but also as a legitimate contender for any type of postseason honor be it the NLCS much less the World Series itself ! But over the course of the remainder of this season we will no doubt see the competitive nature of this team and how far they can actually go as to their own aspirations .

It should come as no surprise that the Seattle Mariners continues to be a woefully inept ran organization and an even more disastrous team from a competitive standpoint. Eric Wedge and his coaching staff have struggled to get this team to even battle competitively anywhere near their true potential . And it certainly hasn’t helped that a veteran such as Milton Bradley whose performances this season have been woefully inept . So much so, that Wedge and the front office led by GM Jack Zduriencik made the decision to part ways with their much troubled and beleaguered veteran . The real problem has been the very fact that Mariners haven’t been a competitive organization since the days when Randy Johnson , Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr were part of this team that met the challenges placed in front of them. It seems to so asinine to think that this organization owned by one of the world’s most recognized electronic gaming companies Nintendo Corp .America as a subsidiary of its parent company Nintendo of Japan has let things slump to its present situation ! It’d appear that Nintendo has no interest in seeing the Mariners be a competitive concern much less a viable one from a financial standpoint .

My biggest concern is what I see as being so much of a microcosm of what’s going across the landscape of baseball. If that’s not prevalent with what we’re now seeing within organizations such as Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets then clearly there’s a problem that the league hierarchy hasn’t really addressed. Albeit, that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has sought to intervene in the day to day operations and we’re informed by MLB spokesman Rob Manfred states that the league is also closely monitoring the New York Mets and their mediation case being overseen by Federal Court appointed mediator for which the organization and its principal owners Fred Wilpon , Saul Katz as well as their company Sterling Equities ; and the Mets’ organization are the co-defendants in Picard et all vs New York Mets , Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon. This case could prove to be costly should a verdict go against the defendants as on the line could be as much as anywhere between $750 million and $1 billion in damages which the plaintiffs are seeking to recoup from the profits attained by the defendants, which were part of the enormous benefits reaped from the Madoff Ponzi scheme .

In watching the Mariners simply spiral out of control it’s hard to believe that the this team can be viewed as being competitive within the AL West when they’re now mired with a 16-19 mark within the division are four games adrift of the division leading Los Angeles Angels . This team has been playing abysmally and if there’s view that the talents of Ichiro Suzuki and Felix Hernandez are being wasted on a team that simply hasn’t the proclivity to win . If nothing else the fans now entrenched at Safeco Field in Seattle , Washington during home games are either seeking to endure this torture or the very fact that in terms of real entertainment there’s very little to be had in terms of using one’s discretionary income wisely . It is completely ridiculous to think Bradley’s departure remains the high point of the Seattle Mariner’s season so far rather than their accomplishments on the field of play. But in reality even there , there has been little to actually take any pride or joy in as with regard to the team’s rather anemic triumphs .

Pared down salaries simply hasn’t helped either organization , neither has the recent personnel decisions made by the Mariners or Pirates that has seen any real fruition for either team. Simply put there’s very little that I can see in terms of any real progress for either club at this juncture ! In time they may well become better but given their results in recent years and the fact that neither has had any impact on the postseason over the past decade it’s clear to see that they’re merely here to make up the numbers and little else !

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

From your own perspective how do you view the Pittsburgh Pirates’ start to the season and do you feel that they’re capable of competing within their division or be viewed as a legitimate title contender. And what thoughts if any do youy have on the Seattle Mariners cutting ties with Milton Bradley , given his particular troubled past over the course of his Major League career ? Simply chime in with a comment as to anything you feel pertinent to this topic .

Alan aka tophatal …………………………..

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .
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(1) Milton Bradley (15) of the Seattle Mariners is restrained by manager Eric Wedge (22 ) after being ejected from the game against the Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field on May 6, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images / Otto Greule Jr ……..

(2) Luis Rodriguez (1) of the Seattle Mariners hits a three run home run in the eigth inning and is congratulated by teammate Milton Bradley (15) during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 28, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-2 . Getty Images /Leon Halip …….

(3) Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage, center, talks with pitcher Chris Resop, right, as catcher Ryan Doumit walks to the mound during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a baseball game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, May 10, 2011. The Dodgers won 10-3 . AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar ……

(4) Neil Walker (18) of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with teammate Ryan Doumit (41) after scoring in the 8th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the game on May 9, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images ……

(5) Lyle Overbay (37) of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits an RBI double in the 8th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the game on May 9, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images ……..

(6) Matt Kempt (27) of the Los Angeles Dodgers makes a catch in the outfield during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 9, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images ……

(7) Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki of Japan, bunts for a single during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in Baltimore. The Orioles won 7-6 in 13 innings. AP Photo/ Nick Wass ……

(8) Seattle Mariners right fielder Carlos Peguero runs under a fly ball by Baltimore Orioles’ Brian Roberts(notes) to make the catch for an out in foul territory during the first inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in Baltimore. AP Photo/Nick Wass ……..

(9) FILE – In this April 11, 2011 , photo, Seattle Mariners’ Milton Bradley(notes) watches from the dugout as he waits his turn to bat against the Toronto Blue Jays during a baseball game in Seattle. Bradley was cut by the Mariners on Monday, May 9, 2011, leaving the temperamental outfielder again looking for a new job. The Mariners designated Bradley for assignment, giving them 10 days to trade, release or send him to the minors. He was making $12 million this season. AP Photo / Elaine Thompson ………..

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