The Evolution of Tiger Woods Continues …

~ To conclude that Tiger Woods is struggling right now would be a severe understatement. There is slumps and then there is epic meltdowns. It’s not just raining on Woods and his career right now, it is a storm that remains to be seen if the one-time face of his sport can get out of.

 The latest downpour on Woods comes from the PGA Championship where he missed the cut. Instead of moving on in the tournament, Woods is headed home. The questions are beginning to pile up from the critics, the fans, the media, and even some who don’t even pay attention to golf. Can Tiger regain the dominant hold he once held on the sport?

I’ve read the phrase major meltdown whenever associated with Tiger Woods most recent outings on the golf course and I do feel that is a little extreme. Woods has been struggling for most of the last two years with his play and it’s been uphill since the news broke of his marital problems. This struggle that Woods is going through is a struggle that any of us could go through if put in his position the last 24 months.

 Woods is paying a severe price right now for being in the spotlight for so much of his adult life. The sport of golf thrived on the marketing power that came with every Woods victory. It now seems to thrive on the adversity that is now following him.

 Woods every move is being strongly dissected in the media. He is distancing himself from a lot of people who have played roles in his career and even that has been looked upon negatively.

 At the end of the day Tiger Woods for all of his faults and poor decisions that he has made, is still human like the rest of us. Change is inevitable with all of us. We are not exempt to it. Sometimes it takes a series of growing pains to trigger that change. Woods is a public figure and is going to always be open to criticism as such. However maybe it’s time to start putting the focus on Tiger Woods attempting to mature as a responsible man.

It would be great to watch Tiger Woods dominate a golf tournament like he’s done in the past. His current struggles have not reached the point of a major meltdown. It could very well be the evolution of Tiger Woods, professional sports athlete into Tiger Woods, the man.

MLB > The Trade Deadline Winners

~ The excitement of the lockout finally coming to an end in the NFL has been distracting to say the least.The baseball season is still very much in full swing and teams are getting in position for their playoff runs. The trade deadline has passed and here is a quick look at some key moves that were made for fans to keep an eye on.

 Hunter Pence To The Phillies

 Pence provides the Phillies with the pop they were looking for to balance out their lineup. They already have their pitching rotation that teams are not looking forward to facing in a potential playoff series. Pence is young (28) and brings a .308 batting average and 62 RBI to the team. The Phillies gave up a lot to Houston just to get Pence. However, it was looking clear that this move was needed for the post-season.

Carlos Beltran to San Francisco

Beltran was the next one to go on the New York Mets firesale of 2011. The Phillies, Braves, and Rangers were all interested in the right fielder who is having a bounce back season with the bat. However, it was the defending champion Giants who were able to land Beltran for their stretch run. Much like Pence in Philadelphia, Beltran gives the Giants a much needed bat in a lineup that had a major hole in it.

 Derrick Lee & Ryan Ludwick To The Pirates

Pence and Beltran were obvious moves and everyone knew they were going to happen. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates were not expected to be in a position to be buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline. The Pirates have been the talk of baseball in 2011 and could have went all out to get Beltran or Pence. It would have meant for them to give up key members of their team though and perhaps a top prospect. For the Pirates to be able to get Lee and Ludwick without mortaging the young talent they currently have is a big win for them and their fans. What the Pirates have done this season so far has been one of my more favorite storylines to follow as the season continues.

Michael Bourn to Atlanta and Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland were solid moves andTexas strengthened their bullpen with Mike Adams and Koji Uehara.

 The Yankees shocked everyone by not making any moves. It’s not because of lack of prospects, the Yanks have a high abundance of them. Apparently they are comfortable with where their pitching staff is at. As long as Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes, and Freddie Garcia can remain consistent behind CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, the Yankees should be able to keep pace with the Red Sox down the stretch.

The Jets Big-Time Investing While Looking For The Ultimate Return

~ The wild NFL free agency bonanza of 2011 has produced plenty of winners and losers so far. It’s been unpredictable at times trying to figure out which teams are coming out ahead with their new investments or not showing enough at the table to put their bids in. The Jets as expected have been active investors and it’s been in their usual controversial way. Read more of this post

USC Suspends Marc Tyler For Comments

~ USC recently announced that they have suspended their senior running back Marc Tyler for their season opener and also from all team activities for comments he made that found it’s way to TMZ.

 The NCAA football season is quickly approaching and I’m sure that all the teams are eagerly anticipating it to begin. However, the anticipation may not have anything to do with the excitement of chasing the national championship or making a bowl game. The NCAA has had one of it’s more memorable off-seasons in recent history and it’s mostly been for the wrong reasons.

 The latest headline involves the one team that would love nothing more than to stay out of the trouble discussion, the USC Trojans. Read more of this post

Don’t Look Now: The NFL Lockout Could Almost Be Over.

~  The longest labor dispute in NFL history may finally be reaching it’s conclusion. Reports have been growing in numbers that the lockout that is over 125 days and counting may soon be over. It’s safe to start talking about football again, here is what we now know….

 According to ESPN, the Owners and Players are working are working very hard towards reaching a deal that could eventually be voted on by the players on Wednesday July 20th, 2011 and then voted on by the owners on Thursday July 21st, 2011. If all lights are green, an announcement that the lockout is over could be made by Friday July 22nd, 2011.

 These are of course projected dates and bumps in the road can still come about that may push things back. The players (NFLPA) still have to reform their union that they took apart at the start of the lockout, if the sides want to bargain collectively.

 The deal that is reportedly on the table would assure the players of 46% – 48% of the leagues total revenues, which now exceed $9 billion per year. This of course was the main reason that led to the lockout. The deal would be a 10-year agreement.

 One potential major bump along the way is the pending lawsuit that the players have against the owners. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are big name plaintiffs in that lawsuit. Will they want compensation in return for dropping the lawsuit and help clear the path towards ending the lockout? That remains to be seen. Compensation could reportedly come in the form of a lifetime exemption from a franchise-player tag. That’s a pretty heavy form of compensation to put on the table.

 What matters most right now is that a deal is close to becoming a reality for the players, owners, and the fans.

 The NFL does not want to risk losing more money (revenue) heading into their pre-season schedule. It’s important to keep in mind as well that the regular season starts September 11th which will mark 10 years since the tragic events of 9/11. It’s logical to think the league would want to play their games on that day for the fans instead of dealing with any backlash over them still trying reach a deal over money.

 So the question that is asked every year around this time looks like its safe  …

 Are You Ready For Some Football??? … Stay Tuned!

The NBA Lockout: A Price To Play … At What Cost?

~ The NBA scene has taken a turn for the expected worst. The league offically is in a lockout phase as a result of the owners and players being unable to come to a mutual agreement on what matters most in professional sports, the money.

Paying attention to what’s been going on in the NFL with their lockout (currently over 100 days and counting), the writing is clearly on the wall for NBA fans to prepare themselves to be without basketball for a long time to come.

 It was optimistic to think that the NFL lockout would be over by summertime. Optimism only gets you so far in this world before reality takes over. In this case, optimism has me believing the NBA will start it’s new season on time in the fall. Reality is looking at me with one hell of a side-eye right now.

 The theme to lock in on is the same as with the NFL, there is money on the table that needs to be divided up a lot better than it has been lately. Small-market teams need to be able to compete financially with the big-market teams in order to keep pace on the basketball court.

 While the NFL team owners have been making money, the owners in the NBA are claiming major financial losses. Reportedly, 22 of the 30 teams in the league lost money this past season. As for the players, they want a bigger piece of the revenue pie. Clearly, the system that was in place is not beneficial to either side right now.

 The fans are only left to wonder now how long this will take to get resolved. That’s not what the NBA wants to happen following one of their most exciting seasons in recent history. One thing that is evident is that the NBA can’t continue to lose a reported $300 million dollars. As long as that is the case, the owners are going to draw just as hard a line in the sand as the players have. This is going to last awhile.

 The end result will eventually be a reality check paid to both sides as we get closer to the start of the season. The threat of lost games is a major card that’s played in negotiations. It does not get played until the very end in most scenarios. It’s like the Joker or Ace of Spades card that we hold onto until we absolutely have to play them to win a hand in a Spades card game.

 Eventually, both sides will be forced to play their cards. It’s either that or jeopardize the momentum that has pulled in fan support. The NBA is coming off a very strong season with captivating storylines. The longer this drags on, the greater the risk of alienating the fans. The fans that pay for tickets to their favorite NBA team’s games, purchases their favorite team’s merchandise, and logs on to their favorite team’s website.

This league is global now and it’s expected that every few years, money and entitlement is going to become an issue of division. However it’s also expected that with everyday spent fighting over that money, the growing fear of losing even more money changes optimism into reality.

 It’s not a matter of will we see the NBA season start on time, it’s at what price will see it start on time.

Welcome To The 2011 NBA Draft: The REAL NBA Trade Deadline

 ~ This year’s NBA Draft does not have the potential star power of the 1996 class that brought in Iverson, Kobe, Marbury, and Allen. There is no LeBron, Melo or D. Wade coming out of this class. It’s low on star power, lower on overall potential talent and despite all of that, the 2011 NBA Draft is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing drafts of recent memory.

 The reasoning behind all of that may have to do with the legal troubles surrounding the NBA which could eventually lead to a lockout. A work stoppage is the last thing the league wants. However much like the NFL lockout, it’s looking inevitable.

 With a pending lockout overshadowing the league, this year’s draft has become more of a spotlight for NBA players who could be put on the market to be traded. The teams need to get their salary cap situations under control now as much as they can before a lockout happens.

 Operating under that kind of thought process has opened the door to enough trade rumors to almost drown out any buzz surrounding this year’s draft.

 Look at some of the names that potentially could be relocating:

* Tony Parker was reportedly on the trade market in 2010 and he’s back on it now apparently. Toronto and Sacramento have both inquired about his availability. They also have the numbers 5 and 7 picks respectively. 

 The Spurs are clearly in a position now where they have to rebuild an aging team. Parker is the one out of their core 3 that has the most trade value. San Antonio is said to be looking to get a top 10 draft pick in return. Perhaps to get a shot at Washington State’s sharpshooter guard Klay Thompson.

 

* Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Jameer Nelson, Lamar Odom, and Monta Ellis have all been thrown into the mix as players who could be on the move. Their respective teams have all been preparing trade scenarios that include picks from this year’s draft.

 

This past season reflected a transition in the league. Oklahoma City and Chicago took big steps forward and even though Miami came up two games short of a NBA title, they’ll be back next season perhaps even stronger. This year teams are not only looking to get into a better position financially with this draft, they are also looking to get younger and more athletic.

 

 

 The draft this year does have potential storylines that involve the players who are eligible.

 Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams are expected to go numbers 1 and 2. Minnesota has been apparently listening to trade offers for the number 2 pick and while Cleveland is expected to take Irving at number 1, what they do with their number 4 pick is just as much a mystery and could impact their decision to take Irving.

 The true drama (if there is any) starts at the number 3 spot with the Utah Jazz. If they take the top big man Enes Kanter or point guard Brandon Knight. Teams are trying to get high enough in the draft through trades to perhaps grab Kanter. Once he comes off the board, it could open the door to an array of trades and surprise picks.

 

What started out as a draft class projected to be one of the weaker ones in recent history has now turned into must see television all of a sudden.

 One thing is for certain is that with a lockout about to happen that could put off free agency over the summer, teams are going the trade route to help shape their rosters. What better platform is left than the NBA Draft to serve as the newest trade deadline.

NY Mets-Blog > It’s Time To Show Jose Reyes The Money

~ It has to feel pretty good to be #7 for the New York Mets right now. Jose Reyes is approaching a crossroads.

The 28-year old shortstop is currently playing the best baseball of his career. Reyes has given the Mets organization everything they could possibly want from him in 2011. He is also up for a new contract at the end of the season. It’s now time for the Mets to give their fanbase what it wants … a new contract for Jose Reyes.


This wouldn’t be any ordinary new contract. Professional athletes get new contracts all the time. In most cases, the contract scale normally works this way if an athlete becomes a big time player:

  • The Rookie Contract: The 1st contract a.k.a the rookie contract let’s an athlete know that they have arrived to the party. The fans are excited because their team has a player that’s developed into a buzz.


  • The All-Star Contract: In the event that athlete lives up to the potential and buzz that got them their rookie contract, there is this contract. The athlete has become a branding weapon for their team and it’s marketing strategy. Fans come to the ballpark to see them play.


  • The Franchise Contract: Every athlete that becomes an All-Star in their career won’t receive this contract. The athlete is now at it’s highest prestige level. Their overall talent and game-changing skills has not only been recognized, it has turned that into athlete into a made man. This is the contract that opens the door to an exclusive membership. Cuba Gooding Jr. said it best as Rod Tidwell in the 1996 film Jerry MaguireRead more of this post

Sunset In Miami: Dallas Wins The NBA Title

 ~ Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd can finally say they have one. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic can finally say it. Jason Terry can finally say it. They can all  now look at each other and say that they now have a NBA championship.The Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat to become 2010-2011 NBA Champions. Miami now heads home for what will be a very long summer vacation, especially for LeBron James.

 

The Miami Heat went into the 4th quarter of Game 6 down by 9 points to the Dallas Mav’s. If it would have been Dallas down by 9, I really wouldn’t pay much attention to it. I know the chances are pretty good they are going to put themselves right back into a position to win the game. However, it was Miami that needed a 4th quarter comeback. The way this series went, for that to happen wouldn’t have been a smart wager.

 

 

The Role Players Step Up And Then The Superstars Step In

 

Dirk Nowitzi was not spectacular, far from it. He was 1 for 12 shooting the ball in the first half. It was what happened during that stretch which ultimately led to final score of this game. While Dirk was struggling to score, the role players for Dallas were picking him up. JJ Barea found his groove once he was put into the starting lineup and Miami couldn’t keep him out the paint. It was the outstanding shooting performance of Jason Terry though that kept Dallas afloat. Terry saved his biggest performance of the series for the elimination game. 19 big points in the first half, 27 points for the game. It was Terry’s shooting that allowed Dallas to continue running their normal offense. It paid off as Nowitzki came up with big shots in the 4th quarter to help put the game away and secure a championship.

 

Everything Dallas was in this series, Miami wasn’t. The Mav’s hustled harder, they fought harder, and they flat out outplayed the Heat in every important aspect of the game. That’s hard to imagine when two elite players are on one team. It’s harder to imagine when that team has the best 3rd option in the league. It’s exactly what happened though.

 

 

Winners Must Endure Adversity

 

 

This series was basically over after the back to back 4th quarter performances of LeBron James in games 4 and 5. The Miami Heat lost this series because James did not respond to the adversity that was thrown at him. As talented as this team is, they only get this far because of the play of Wade, Bosh, and James. The moment was there for James to grab when the efforts of Wade wasn’t enough.

 

James had moment after moment to establish himself as an elite player that belonged on the biggest stage. He was nowhere near the dominant player the fans have come to expect of him. James was indecisive, passive, and too quick to defer to the next player instead of letting his natural talent take over. It cost him a championship this season. It may also cost him further damage to the global icon status he is trying to build for himself.

 

LeBron James is in his 9th year in the league. That’s hard to imagine because he’s still so young. To be a winner, facing adversity and overcoming it is a must.He took Cleveland to the Finals in 2007 and they were swept by the Spurs. He couldn’t get them back to the Finals, finishing his time there on a losing note that’s best remembered for his final home game in Cleveland against Boston. In that game it looked as if James already had one foot out of the door and ultimately led him to Miami to team with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh. 12 months worth of mostly public backlash later, James came up short again when it mattered most and when adversity is confronting him.

 

 

What happens to Miami from here on will be a point of conversation for weeks to come. Wade and James are the foundation of the team and as long as that’s the case, Miami will be title contenders. They had chemistry problems this season and that played a big part in their inconsistent play throughout the regular season. Wade and James must find a way to take the next step together as leaders of this team. Bosh has to find a way to get involved in the offense more. The supporting cast must be improved over the summer.

 

Whereas Miami took a step backwards in their pursuit of “multiple championships”, Dallas took full advantage of their time in the spotlight. This team wasn’t built for multiple championships. This was their moment. Kidd, Marion, Terry, and Stojakovic endured years of falling short in the playoffs as stars on their past teams. They embraced their role as supporting cast members while Dirk Nowitzki was the headliner. If there was any doubt left about Nowitzki being a big time superstar, it was erased in the playoffs this year. He led Dallas on comeback after comeback and dazzled everyone with his shooting. His mental toughness showed when he got hurt, sick, and eventually hit a shooting slump at the worst possible time. Dirk not only took on adversity, he embraced the challenge with the heart and determination of a champion.

 

This is a team that went the second half of the season without it’s Caron Butler. Butler was a big loss on offense and defense for the Mav’s. They overcame that to make the playoffs, run through Portland, sweep the defending champion Lakers, and hold off Oklahoma City to reach the Finals.

 

The Dallas Mavericks took their talents to South Beach and now head back to Texas with the trophy. When the moment comes, you have to be prepared for it. You never know when you’ll have that moment again. Dallas confronted the moment and ran with it, Miami was confronted by the moment and ran away from it.

The TFB Week In Review … June 5th-11th, 2011 Part Two

The NBA FINALS: Will The Real LeBron Please Stand Up?

 

 ~ The NBA Finals is about to reach it’s grand finale and it’s been a great ride so far. The storyline should be how great these games have been between Miami and Dallas. However, a storyline that’s been 12 months in the making has taken centerstage, the mystery of what happened to LeBron James: The Basketball Player.

 

He didn’t show in game 4, by far the worst we have ever seen him play on the big stage. He was nowhere to be found in the fourth quarter and Miami lost that game. In game 5 James at least showed up long enough to post a triple double. However, those numbers had no impact when it mattered most … the 4th quarter. Miami lost that game as well.

 

He hasn’t exactly been “King James” in this series. The man who is supposed to be nearly unstoppable on the court has been nothing close to that. Now the series heads back to South Beach with Dallas 1 win away from a championship and James possibly headed for the longest summer of his professional career.

 

No one really knows why James has not been the dominant player everyone knows he’s capable of being. It’s possible he could be trying to fit in too much onto Dywane Wade’s team instead of just playing his game. What is certain though is that James is in danger of damaging his reputation on the court. The doubters and the critics have had a field day with his free fall to this point. Miami can still come back and win the championship, however James has to get back to being himself. Anything less and the question will continue to linger, championship or not … When will we see the real LeBron James?

 

RED SOX-YANKEES: Does Boston Have The Yanks Number?

 

 

Another Red Sox-Yankees series at Yankee Stadium this season ended with another Red Sox Sweep. It’s only June and the baseball season has a long way to go. However, Boston is clearly comfortable playing in the Bronx this season. Proof of that was David Ortiz launching home runs off of Yankee pitching throughout the series. The Red Sox appear to be primed for a big summer and the Yankees may have to make sure they at least lock up the wild card instead of going after the division.

 

A lot of the Yankees summer plans determine on the state of their now very fragile pitching. The starting rotation is full of question marks after CC Sabathia. The bullpen was projected to have a big season for the Yankees, instead they have become walking M.A.S.H unit. Pedro Feliciano, Rafael Soriano, and not Joba Chamberlain have all gone down. Chamberlain’s loss was a surprise and a major blow. He’s facing Tommy John surgery which could put him out 12-14 months.

 

 

The next time these two teams meet will be in August. The Yanks are going to have to make a statement in that series that will set a tone for the stretch run in September. The American League East is going to come down to who’s the healthiest at the end of the season. The anticipation will now pick up to see who the Yankees will go after at the trade deadline, that’s if Boston doesn’t beat them to the punch.

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