Urban Media Today NFL preview

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As the start of the NFL preseason is just around the corner, there are questions to be answered leading up to the regular season. Who are favorites? Which teams will disappoint? Who are the dark horses? Will the four-game suspension of Tom Brady hinder the Patriots chances? What will the first season of the post Peyton Manning era in Denver look like? Will Tony Romo stay healthy and give the Cowboys a chance in the mediocre NFC East? Let’s take a look, division by division.

 

The NFC East is wide open. The Giants have made some improvements, but have a tough stretch on the road against divisional opponents at the end of the season. The Eagles have made major changes trying too cleanup from the Chip Kelly debacle and probably will be a 7-9 or 8-8 team. The Redskins come in with a very solid offense, which could be enough in a division where 9 wins could be enough.  The favorites could be the Cowboys, given a healthy Tony Romo, and that’s a big question mark. Should he stay healthy, 10 wins is not out of the question, but a last place finish is possible if he cannot stay on the field.

 

The NFC North continues to go through Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers at the helm. The return of Jordy Nelson will improve an already impressive offense and the Packers have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. The Vikings have a tough start to their schedule, which could put them behind the eight-ball the rest of the way. On the flip side, they play at home late and could make a wild card push. Expect 10 or 11 wins and a playoff berth. The Bears and the Lions should represent nicely, but aren’t strong enough to contend. Records around .500 are most likely for these clubs.

 

The Panthers will be the team to beat in the NFC South and although their schedule is tougher than a year ago, shouldn’t have much trouble winning a division that is relatively weak. The one team the Panthers may have to keep their eyes on is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston. The problem with the Bucs is a brutal schedule to open, which could easily result in a 1-4 or 2-3 start. The Saints still have Drew Bress, and although he is aging, has shown he can still get the job down in crucial situations. With him at the controls, the Saints are never out of it, but an 8-8 record is likely. The Falcons have a brutal two-game stretch weeks 5 and 6 facing the Broncos and Seahawks, which will only compound their problems. A last place finish is likely.

 

The is little question which teams will battle it out in the NFC West. The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks will be the top two contenders.  The Seahawks should always be in the mix as long as Russell Wilson is behind center and an opportunistic defense. The division likely will go to the Cardinals, if they can withstand a daunting stretch of five road games over the last seven. The Rams should be improved with rookie Jared Goff taking over at quarterback, but he is a rookie and expect some growing pains. Look for 7-9 or 8-8 out of the Rams. The 49ers appear to be in all kinds of trouble and now have the Chip Kelly system to get used to. He failed in Philadelphia in his final season as the league appeared to have caught on to the scheme. Don’t expect the 49ers to finish out of the basement.

 

In New England, the Patriots will be without Tom Brady through the first four games due to suspension. What appeared to be a relatively easy walk through a mediocre division, now could be that much more daunting. The Patriots will need to be no worse than 2-2 when Brady returns to overcome a tough end of season schedule against the Ravens, Broncos and Jets.  Still expect them to take the division with 10 wins, but it won’t be easy. The Bills should be in the mix, but a lot will depend on how good Rex Ryan’s defense holds up. The Dolphins and the Jets can both cause trouble for opponents, but an unsettled quarterback situation in Miami and a tough schedule for the Jets appears to put them out of serious contention.

 

The AFC North will be a three-way battle between the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers. All three teams are capable of 10 or 11 wins, with the winner likely the one with the best head-to-head matchups. The Browns are the also ran in the division and likely the entire NFL. With very little to work with. They could very easily lose all six games in the division and a 2 or 3-win season is not out of the question.

 

The Colts and the Texans should duke it out in the AFC South. With Brock Osweiler now at the helm in Houston and a tough defense lead by JJ Watt, the Texans could win the division for the second straight season. Don’t count out the Colts, though, as long as Andrew Luck is the quarterback. It’s still hard to envision a divisional championship for the Colts, who have areas of weakness in the offensive line and pass rush. The Jaguars are probably better on paper than the Titans, although the Titans have an easy schedule. Having said that, both teams will be fortunate to reach 6 or 7 wins.

 

In the AFC West, the Broncos are coming off their Super Bowl win and will have a new leader at quarterback. It’s hard to envision Mark Sanchez or rookie Paxton Lynch to provide another Super Bowl appearance, but there are enough tools in place to make the Broncos the favorite in the division.  The Chiefs and Raiders will be in the mix, as the Chiefs have a relatively week schedule, putting them in prime position for a playoff run. The Raiders season could hinge on their season finale against the Broncos. Although the Chargers have the best quarterback in the division, a thin offensive line won’t give Philip Rivers enough chances to win many games.

Urbanmediatoday.com Sports

Ray Jr. on Sports

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  1. We begin with the NBA, which announced that the OKC Thunder and All-Star guard Russell Westbrook have agreed on a 3-year deal worth $85.7 million. Such a deal ends much speculation that he was following fellow All-Star Kevin Durant out of town via free agency.
  2. I have to admit that I am shocked, because I (and probably you) probably thought Westbrook was gone. But kudos to OKC for putting their money where their mouth is. This was a team that nearly upset the Golden St. Warriors in the Western Conference Finals (albeit with Durant) but now that Westbrook’s committed for at least 3 more years, they’re still a decent team.
  3. In other NBA news, just in case you were wondering what city would get the 2017 All-Star Game now that it was removed from Charlotte NC, because of because of the league’s objection to the state’s House Bill 2, it reportedly will be moved to New Orleans, LA.
  4. Again, I know that both the city of Charlotte and the NBA have different viewpoints regarding this matter, and they stood on them. So as disappointed as Charlotte, the Hornets (and owner Michael Jordan) is, they’re sticking to their guns, as are the NBA. Hence, the All-Star Game won’t be in Charlotte for 2017.
  5. NY Knicks HC Derrick Fisher shocked the NBA world 2 years ago when he was named their head coach. And now that he’s fired, he’s making more shocking news as he announced that he would like to play in the NBA again.
  6. Um…Derrick, slow it down brother. Yes, I know that Magic Johnson was the last man to return from coaching (1993-94) when he did so with the LA Lakers, but it doesn’t mean everybody should do it-and that definitely includes you. And like Magic, you should’ve never been coaching anyway.
  7. As for College Football, they’ve finally released their Preseason Top 25 (USA Today’s Coaches Poll) and to no surprise, defending National Champion Alabama is #1, followed by runner-up Clemson at #2, Oklahoma at #3, another ACC team in Florida State at #4 and Ohio State at #5.
  8. I think the coaches got the Top 5 right. These teams are truly qualified and were truly the best in college football. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if Alabama repeated, but it would be cool to see another National Champion especially if it’s the ACC’s Florida State or Clemson.
  9. As for the Pitt Panthers football team, they will begin Training Camp Monday August 8th. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s lots of expectations on this team as they’re expecting to build off their 8-5 2016 season that ended with a trip to the Military Bowl.
  10. I honestly thing that HC Pat Narduzzi can take this team to places that they haven’t seen in years. Of course that depends on them remaining healthy and finding a reliable WR for redshirt QB Nate Peterman to throw the ball too, because losing All-American WR Tyler Boyd will hurt.
  11. As for Major League Baseball, the smoke has cleared from the August 1st Non-Waiver Trade Deadline and now teams will prepare for the stretch run. Of course, there’s still the August 31st Trade deadline in which teams must put players on waivers and claimed-before they can officially be traded.
  12. If you ask me it’s a crazy process, but it’s what MLB has been doing for years. It certainly helped the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 when they acquired OF Marlon Byrd and 1B Justin Morneau. I remember in 1998, the SD Padres acquired closer Randy Myers Just to keep him from going to the Atlanta Braves. Pretty shrewd, if you ask me.
  13. As for those Pirates, I just don’t know what to make of them after their role in the Trade Deadline. I didn’t like the trading of closer Mark Melancon one bit-and for the record, I don’t care how well new Closer Tony Watson does, it’s not a move that contenders make.
  14. But what’s done is done, and the Pirates have to move forward. I hope that means moving forward without P Jeff Locke as he awful performance resulted in the Pirates losing 8-4 to the Braves Wednesday night. For those who weren’t watching, the Pirates were ahead 4-0.
  15. I also was stunned that they would trade starter Francisco Liriano as well. Yes, he was awful (6-11) this season, but he’s a sentimental favorite and played a critical part in the Pirates return to a playoff team. But he’s gone now and the Pirates playoff chances could be gone too.
  16. As for the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers are making news as they continue their Training Camp in Latrobe. Apparently CB Senquez Golson is possibly facing a season-ending injury yet again as he suffered a Lisfranc foot injury and could be out nearly four months, and possibly the 2016 season.
  17. I feel bad for the kid, because he still hasn’t played his rookie season after being a second round draft pick out of Mississippi in 2015. He missed that season after needing shoulder surgery. I wish him the best and hope he can on the field this season.
  18. As for WR Antonio Brown, it’s no secret that he wants a new contract (and deservingly so) but he should know by now, that the Steelers have a strict policy of not negotiating contracts with more than a year left on their current one. Now Brown hasn’t made waves, but he’s made enough hints to cause GM Kevin Colbert to comment.
  19. According to espn.com, Colbert reiterated that he will only negotiate Pro-Bowl G David DeCastro, who does have a year left. The only exception to that rule are starting QBs which was evident when they re-signed QB Ben Roethlisberger to a new deal worth $99 million. Like I said before, shrewd business, man.
  20. So the 2016 Summer Olympics begin Friday, in addition to watching the Olympic Men and Women’s basketball teams, I look forward to seeing Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas get more Gold, and Alison Phoenix dominate in Track & Field. Go USA!

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Not all Fats are Bad

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by: Dianne Ronnow

Fats have been unfairly lumped together as being all bad for too long. Fat doesn’t necessarily cause disease, and can actually cause a role in its prevention. The truth is that some fats are very bad for us and some fats are actually very good for us.

Time has shown us that diets that restrict all fats fail in terms of weight loss. Since the end of World War II, Americans have been told that they need to restrict saturated fat in their diets. So we switched to margarine from butter, and did what we could to restrict fat. We have been constantly told that the reason for our health problems is that we still eat too much fat, especially saturated fats.

Since Americans have been told to eat a low fat diet to lose weight, the results are that nearly two thirds of adult Americans are now classified as overweight and more children are overweight now than ever before. Obviously something is wrong. That is because we need special kinds of fats in our diets that we are not getting.

If you are like me, you grew up being told that vegetable oils were the good oils and saturated fats were the bad ones. Now we are finding out that it is just the opposite. Diets that are moderate to high in “good” saturated fats and oils such as coconut oil and olive oil are actually very good for us. They raise good cholesterol levels and lower bad cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure. As a matter of fact, people who started adding at least 4 tablespoons of coconut oil to their diets every day, have found that they can now lose weight when they could not before on a fat restricted diet. Sometimes the addition of these oils even helps with their health problems.

It turns out that the bad guys are polyunsaturated oils, which carry toxic fatty acids (long chain fatty acids or LCT’s). These LCT’s tend to produce fat in the body. Polyunsaturated oils are the vegetable oils we commonly see in the grocery store, such as soy, corn, cottonseed, rapeseed and safflower.

We have been told that they lower cholesterol, but they way that they do is not healthy, as it ends up collecting in the liver. These oils are easily oxidized and damaged by free radicals. When cooked they become rancid in a few hours, even in the refrigerator. This causes damage to our body at a cellular level, the end results showing up as problems like diabetes, cancer, hypothyroidism and heart disease. And if that is not enough, these oils help us to get fat, lower the metabolic rate in our bodies, help suppress the thyroid function and cause our skin to age quicker.

Trans-fat is one of the worst bad guys. Trans-fatty acids often appear on ingredient labels as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. It is what they do to vegetable oils to make them into hard fats such as margarine and vegetable shortening. It is used in the prepared food industry in baked goods like cookies, crackers, and most supermarket peanut butter to prolong the shelf life. These bad fats are used almost exclusively in fast foods that are fried. When heated and eaten, they turn into something like poison in your system, because your body can not process this kind of chemically made fat. Trans-fats not only increase levels of bad cholesterol, but they will decrease levels of good cholesterol in the blood stream and trans-fatty acids have been linked to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Fats such as margarine and shortening should be totally avoided, as well as foods items that contain them.

The United States FDA is finally catching up to this truth, and by January 2006 they will be requiring food products to label the amount of trans-fat they have in them.) What is frightening is that trans-fats are found in over 40% of the products on our supermarket shelves.

The fatty acid chains in coconut and olive oil are medium-chain fatty acids (MCT’s) and they promote weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolism to create energy. Coconut oil has become popular lately, because it has been discovered that coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MTC’s. If you decide to add coconut oil to your diet, it is recommended that you purchase virgin coconut oil (VCO), usually found in health food stores, because it from the best part of the coconut and has not been chemically bleached and heat processed. It is better for cooking than olive oil, because olive oil can be damaged by the heat of cooking, making it similar to the other vegetable oils in the body when cooked.

Even saturated fat from animals is not as bad as it once was thought to be, especially if it is from organically raised animals (free range and grass fed). Organic butter has a very high conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content, which helps us lose weight and gain muscle. But non-organic meats may still be dangerous because of the way the animals were raised or fed. Most grocery store meats are filled with hormones, pesticides, medicines and unhealthy fat that gets transferred to us when we eat it.

Organic grass fed and free range meat and eggs avoid these problems, and give us a much healthier source of protein and saturated fat. Organic saturated fats and oils are actually good for you and should be eaten daily. The body needs these fats for healthy functioning.

So, forget the guilt and fry up that range-fed chicken in some coconut oil and enjoy!

About The Author

By Dianne Ronnow © 2006 Mohave Publishing. All rights reserved. From “The Enzyme Health Diet Plan”, a free ebook.

Buying Groceries Like a Pro – Tips and Advice

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 18:  Shoppers use plastic grocery bags after shopping at the 99 Cents Only Store on June 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  The Los Angeles City Council is expected to vote on a proposed law would prohibit stores that sell pershiable goods for handing out the plastic grocery bags and fines would will be imposed for violators. It also calls for a 10-cent charge on paper bag use and regulations on the types of reusable bags that stores make it available to their customers.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
With the cost of groceries constantly on the rise, most shoppers have taken notice of their increasingly high grocery bills. They’ve also noticed how time consuming grocery shopping can be and that poor buying choices are being made when they are in a hurry. Because of such problems, people are looking for a better way to shop. Luckily, the answer is simple. By following some advice and changing a few shopping habits, anyone can start buying groceries like a professional.

 

 

#1 – Create a Shopping List

 

Creating a shopping list can shorten the time spent buying groceries. No longer will last-minute meal decisions need to be made as you wander up and down the aisles, because you’ll know exactly what you need to buy before you even enter the store. Having a grocery list also prevents the type of aimless shopping which can lead to filling your cart with unnecessary food, just because you were unsure of what to buy. Impulsive purchases are what send grocery bills through the roof.

 

For those wondering how to create a detailed list of groceries, start with a comprehensive meal plan. Decide how long the groceries should last and plan out in detail each meal during that time frame. Once you know which meals you will be preparing, you’ll know exactly what foods should be added to the list. Be sure to add specific quantities where required, so you don’t end up buying the wrong amount of food as you are shopping.

 

 

#2 – Search for Flyers and Coupons

 

Before throwing your junk mail into the recycle bin, set aside the grocery store flyers. If you are one of the lucky few who don’t receive junk mail, rest assured, most flyers can be found on the Internet. Though grocery stores often post their latest flyer on their website, there are other websites that link to several of the latest flyers that can save you the trouble of searching for each one separately. A quick search for “online flyers” should point you in the right direction.

 

By reading the flyers, you’ll know which sales you’ll benefit most from. You should visit the stores advertising several of the items you plan to buy. It isn’t worth saving a few pennies on salad, if it requires extra time and gas to run across town to buy just the one item.

 

Though coupons are no longer required for most sale items, it can still be beneficial to do a quick search. You will find that many coupons provide excellent savings. Don’t be tempted to use them all however, as it doesn’t save anyone money to buy unnecessary things.

 

 

#3 – Never Shop Hungry

 

Though it might sound strange, a common mistake for grocery buyers is shopping with an empty stomach. People often buy unnecessary things when they are hungry, so it’s best to leave the shopping for later if you haven’t eaten.

 

Shortly after a meal is one of best times to shop for groceries. Before leaving however, you should give your stomach some time to settle. This is often the perfect time to check your local flyers and search for coupons.

 

 

#4 – Buy “In Season” Produce

 

For nutritious foods that don’t break the bank, the produce section is the best place to look. In fact, some of the cheapest foods for sale are fruits and vegetables. This becomes especially true for any produce that is currently in season. Better yet, seasonal foods will also reach their peak freshness during this time.

 

With worldwide food delivery, most kinds of produce are available year round. Certain foods however, will be at their peak during different seasons. These include:

 

Spring: apricots, carrots, pineapple, snow peas, spinach, and strawberries.

Summer: beans, blueberries, broccoli, corn, cucumber, peaches, peppers, raspberries, and tomatoes.

Fall: apples, cauliflower, grapes, mushrooms, pears, squash, and sweet potatoes.

Winter: citrus fruits, leeks, radishes, and turnips.

 

 

#5 – Avoid Ready-Made Foods

 

Pre-prepared foods may offer convenience, but are more expensive to buy and are often anything but nutritious. This is because they tend to be filled with ingredients like sugar, salt, and fat – all things a healthy diet should not include. Instead, cooking from scratch can save you money and allow for meals that contain more of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. It also allows you to substitute for ingredients you like, while leaving out the foods you’d rather not eat.

 

 

#6 – Sample Different Brands

 

It’s a myth that only leading brand manufacturers sell the best food. In fact, many of the products sold under the store brand label are made and packaged by the same factories that produce the popular name brands that you have come to know and love. Some store brand foods even taste better than the leading brand, but cost much less.

 

If you find a product that doesn’t meet your standards, simply try another brand until you do. There’s no harm in testing different brands, just avoid bulk purchases until you know if the product is right for you. If later on you still prefer the leading brand, you can always switch back.

 

 

By following some simple advice and changing a few of your shopping habits, it’s easy to avoid the common mistakes shoppers make when buying groceries. In doing so, you will save time and money, while benefiting from eating healthier foods at home. There has never been a better time to start shopping more efficiently, so what are you waiting for? Start buying your groceries like a professional!

Take the Show on the Road with a Great Bike Rack

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by beconrad

Riding your bike is a great way to get some much needed exercise and enjoy the great outdoors. The problem is that many modern roads are not fit for bicycle traffic. Even though bicycles are technically allowed on most roads, a number of factors make riding on many of them difficult and even dangerous.

 

Major roads through the town may have wide shoulders and ample room to ride, but they also host large numbers of cars and trucks. To make matters worse, that vehicular traffic often uses the shoulder of the road to enter and exit parking lots, make turns and otherwise inhibit bicycle riders.

 

Some bike riders take to the smaller country roads, but that option comes with its own dangers. Country roads are often winding, with sudden curves and hidden blind spots. That can make it harder for motorists to see you and your bike. Country roads also tend to be narrower than other streets, making it harder for bicyclists to get off to the side when cars and trucks approach. In addition to those hazards, narrow country roads often have no shoulders at all, or shoulders that consist solely of loose gravel, dirt and other unstable surfaces. Those uneven surfaces can make it hard for bicycle riders to maintain their balance during a quick swerve or another emergency maneuver.

 

The absence of public road options does present some challenges to avid cyclists and fitness enthusiasts, but it does not have to spell the end of their riding careers. Bike paths and other specialty riding areas provide bicyclists with another option and the chance to ride safely. Bike paths also provide cyclists with a way to meet others who share their enthusiasm and passion for the sport.

 

While bike paths are great, cyclists need a safe way to get there and back, and that is where a good bike rack comes in. Choosing a bike rack is not difficult, but it is important to look for a few key features.

 

One of the most important factors to look for in a bike rack is ease of use. The best bike racks make it easy to lock your bike in place quickly, without undue stress or difficulty. If possible, you should check out the bike rack in person and practice taking your bike on and off the rack.

 

Security is another important consideration when buying a bike rack. You are not the only person who loves your bike; there are plenty of thieves who would like to get their hands on it as well. A secure lock that is hard for thieves to pick but easy for you to operate is an absolute must.

 

The right bike rack gives you added freedom and allows you ride far from the fast-moving cars and trucks that ply the modern roadways. Knowing what to look for in a bike rack is the best way to protect your ride and enjoy your favorite sport.

Urban Media Today Sports Reports

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In the past 3 years, it was no secret that the Pittsburgh Pirates were ‘buyers’ at the MLB Trade Deadline, meaning that since they were in playoff contention that it was a no-brainer that they were going to add players (or ‘salary’ as GM Neil Huntington put it) to get them into the postseason.  As for this season It’s hard to say what the Pirates are thinking as they made moves at this year’s trade deadline that left mixed reviews as the Pirates were both ‘buyers’ and ‘Sellers.’

On Saturday, Huntington traded away their All-Star closer in Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals for pitchers Pirates for relievers Felipe Rivero and Taylor Hearn. Rivero is with the ball club now, but Hearn is a Class a Prospect. Such a deal does help a contending team, but not the Pirates, unless you realize that trading Melancon saves the Pirates $3 Million in salary.

And on Monday, Huntington made more moves as sent P Jonathon Niese back to the Mets for former Pirates reliever Antonio Bastardo. They also acquired P Ivan Nova from the NY Yankees for a player to be named later, and they traded P Francisco Liriano, C Reese McGuire & OF Harold Ramirez (both minor league prospects) to the Toronto Blue Jays for P Drew Hutchison.

For the Yankees, Nova is 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA and Hutchison went 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA for the Blue Jays.

Both Liriano and Niese were truly disappointments for the Pirates this season. Liriano struggled to a 6-11 record with a horrible 5.46 ERA and while Niese went a hard 8-6, his 4.91 (which leads the Pirates pitchers, by the way) was so hard to deal with that even Huntington actually admitted that trading Walker for him was a mistake.

Say what you want about the Pirates trading Melancon and Liriano. They were both salary dumps. Melancon was making $9.6 million and will be a free agent after the season while Liriano (who will also be a free agent after the season) while Liriano was making a whopping $11 million this season.

So now that the ‘smoke’ has cleared, what will the Pirates look like after all these trades? Well, it’s no secret that their pitching staff has gotten younger. You can expect Nova and Hutchison to join the starting rotation with ace Gerritt Cole, Rookie Jameson Tallion and a starter to be named later. Although they have Rivero (4.44 ERA, 1 SV) in the bullpen, he won’t be the closer. that job goes to former set-up man Tony Watson (2.64 ERA, 0 Saves)

Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage will once again trade his pitching skills for his MD license-and ‘fix’ or ‘adjust’ Rivero, Nova and Hutchison. The one who stands out in this crew is Nova, who clearly has talent. He could easily become another JA Happ for the Pirates-which would greatly benefit the pitching staff.

As much as the Pirates desperately need their pitchers to turn it around with 59 games to play, but their bats need a spark too as they were virtually invisible this weekend in Milwaukee. Maybe their spirits were crushed after the Melancon trade, maybe it’s just the fact that they can’t win at Miller Park, whatever the reason, the Pirates were swept in 3 games to the 47-56 Brewers, who’re currently 15.5 games out of first place in the NL Central.

All-Star LF Starling Marte leads the Pirates with a .322 batting average (4th in the NL), but having only 7 HRs is hurting the club. CF Andrew McCutchen continues to hurt the club with his .241 batting average and 107 strikeouts which are truly an albatross not only to the team-but to his career. He still does have 15 HRs, which is tied for the league lead. 3B Jung Ho Kang continues to struggle with a .236 batting average with 11 HRs and 36 RBI. 1B John Jaso was a pleasant surprise to the Pirates at the beginning of the season, but has now struggled to a .257 batting average. 2B John Harrison (.266, 3, 42) has also been a disappointment at the plate and his status is currently day-to-day as he left Sunday’s game vs. the Brewers with leg discomfort.

Kudos to RF Gregory Polanco, who has truly come into his own as he’s hitting .287 and is tied with McCutchen with 15 HRs and leads the team with 56 RBI, and he has gotten help from 1B David Freese (.279, 10, 42) and Super sub Matt Joyce (.286, 10, 43) but this team truly needs McCutchen and Kang to catch lightning in a bottle.

Yes, it’s true that the Pirates could be worse, but if they could also be better-provided the pitching staff had more talent and the bats did more. But since they’re still in range of the Wild Card, Huntington still thinks the Pirates have a shot at the postseason. Do you believe in miracles? Apparently Huntington does. Let’s hope the Pirates do-by showing it on the field.

Up next: Cole will try to build upon his first professional complete game when he starts against Atlanta on Tuesday as the Pirates take on the Braves.

In other MLB news: The Pirates weren’t the only team busy before the trade deadline. The Texas Rangers, who currently lead the AL West, were very aggressive as they acquired former NY Yankees OF Carlos Beltran and former Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy for prospects. The NL Wild Card-contending Mets acquired OF Jay Bruce from the Cincinnati Reds for INF Dilson Herrera and LHP Max Wotell. The NL Wild Card leading LA Dodgers acquired OF Josh Reddick and LHP Rich Hill from the Oakland A’s for RHPs Jharel Cotton, Grant Holmes and Frankie Montas. The NL West-leading SF Giants acquired P Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays, who also sent OF Brandon Guyer to Cleveland, who lead the AL Central. The AL Wild Card contending Blue Jays acquired RHP Scott Feldman from Houston.

In NFL News: The Buffalo Bills signed veteran RB Reggie Bush to a 1-year contract Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins ended his brief holdout with the Houston Texans and rejoined the team at training camp. The young WR is seeking a new contract with his team. SD Chargers WR Stevie Johnson has torn meniscus, out indefinitely.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

Traveling to Hong Kong

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Hong Kong, which roughly translates to “Fragrant Harbor” in Cantonese, is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. The government is unitary, which means towns and cities are not recognized as subsidiary administrative units. Up until 1997, Victoria was considered the capital of Hong Kong. However, due to its unique status as a SAR, many countries consider Beijing (the capital of China) as the capital.

 

Located on the coast of the South China Sea, Hong Kong is a city of seven million people. It is known for its colorful history, expansive skyline, deep transition harbor and vivid cultural diversity.

 

Hong Kong bills itself as Asia’s World City. And with good reason. It is a major trade and financial hub and enjoys strong political and legal independence. It is regarded as an Aplha+ city and was ranked fifth in the Global Cities Index of 2014.

 

Culture

 

Perhaps the most striking aspect of Hong Kong’s lively culture is its distinct East-Meets-West undertone. Close to 94 percent of its seven million people are of Chinese ethnicity. But, since Hong Kong was a British colony till 1997 (before being officially transferred to China), it still retains much of that British influence and culture. And the result is a culture that has a unique

 

Apart from the sizable Chinese group, Hong Kong has significant representation from the people of India, Nepal and Pakistan. A large number of Thais, Indonesians and Filipinos also live in Hong Kong, a majority among whom are employed as domestic help. Owing to its status of a global trade and financial hub, the city also has a statistically significant population of Australians, North Americans, Europeans and the Japanese.

 

Whatever their ethnicity, the people of Hong Kong are known for their strong ethics and well-behaved demeanor. These are knowledgeable and hardworking people who may come across as a little reserved. But that’s only until you strike a conversation. You’ll then see that the people of Hong Kong are friendly, and especially great with children.

 

Explore

 

Hong Kong is known for its tall buildings and one-of-kind activities for tourists. The most popular attractions include:

 

  • Victoria Peak Tower: Commonly called just “The Peak”, the tower is stylish, entertaining and thrilling to say the least. It is home to The Sky Terrace – city’s highest 360-degree viewing platform, among other fascinating things.

 

  • Ozone Bar, Ritz Carlton: The highest bar in the world, Ozone sits on the 118th floor of the building and offers unmissable views of the vibrant city.

 

  • Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center: The building is one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Hong Kong. If you have watched the Jackie Chan-starrer New Police Story, you may remember the center from the epic finale of the movie. When there, be sure to visit the Golden Bauhinia Square as well.

 

In addition, Hong Kong’s local markets, temples and gardens offer great experiences that are characteristic of Hong Kong. Popular attractions include:

 

  • Local Markets – Temple Street Night Market and Cat Street for jade, antiques and bric-a-brac; Ladies’ Market for inexpensive souvenirs and Stanley Market for the more premium ones. The Fa Yuen Street Market and Jade Market for some authentic Hong Kong-style shopping.

 

  • Temples – The Big Buddha and Wong Tai Sin Temple are two of Hong Kong’s most popular destinations for tourists who would like to make prayers while in the city.

 

  • Gardens – Nan Lian and Chi Lin Nunnery, two spectacular gardens right in the middle of soaring skyscrapers are ideal for some peaceful reflection and introspection. The Hong Kong Wet Land Park, though not technically a garden, is another calm and serene destination that will get you thinking.

 

Cuisine

 

Hong Kong holds the much-deserved title of “World’s Fair of Food” and “Gourmet Paradise” and it spoils you for choice. The city’s unique east-meets-west style reflects in its cuisine as well and you can see popular global fast food joints or hot pot and dim sum restaurants flourishing alongside traditional Chinese Haute Cuisine establishments as well.

 

This makes it a good place to eat for both – travelers who want to experience the traditional Chinese cuisines and those that are homesick and have had enough of the Chinese food. It is also a good place to eat for travels who want premium dining experience. Four among the world’s best 100 restaurants are in Hong Kong, as per the Restaurant Magazine. And you can easily use the Michelin Guide or Open Rice to find and locate other great places to eat.

 

Activities

 

Apart from sightseeing, Hong Kong excels in offering a multitude of activities for travelers of all tastes. These include shopping, clubbing, hiking, trailing and even gambling. Among other things, Hong Kong is a shopper’s paradise.

 

Shops in the city are marked by zero VAT, zero sales tax and fierce competition, which make it easier for shoppers to find quality items. However, don’t expect the costs to be cheap everywhere and be ready to put up your fiercest bargain if you want cheap shopping. Mong Kok in Kowloon is the major shopping district in the city. Shopping malls are abundant in the city and the most popular ones include Landmark, City Plaza, IFC Mall, Pacific Place, APM, Festival Walk and Times Square.

 

Transportation

 

Hong Kong boasts a highly-developed transportation network, both internally and externally. It is well connected with all the major cities and countries in the world. The Hong Kong International Airport, which has been labeled the “World’s Best Airport” eight times by Skytrax, connects Hong Kong to all major cities in North America and Europe with one daily flight at least. Flights to and from Asia and Oceania are also frequent.

 

Getting into Hong Kong is also possible via helicopters and ferries, especially if you’re traveling from mainland China. Cruise ships from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam are another way to get into Hong Kong.

 

While in Hong Kong, you will find a sophisticated mix of (private and public) rail, road and air transport to get around. These include the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), tramways, funicular or cliff railways, franchised buses, light public buses, taxis, ferries and aerial lift transports such as cable cars. You can also rent a car or a bike to get around.

 

MTR is the fastest and easiest way to get around. Taxis are another good option. Compared to other cities around the world, taxis in Hong Kong are easy to find and ride. They are also significantly cheaper. You can use the Octopus Card, which is a prepaid debit card the people of Hong Kong use to pay for services such as public transport and car parking. It can also be used in supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores and the like. You will get discounted rates when using the Card for public transport.

 

Essentials

 

You will need a passport and visa to get in Hong Kong, even if you are entering via mainland China. You can apply for a visa at the Chinese embassy or at Hong Kong’s Immigration Department. Details of the entry requirement can be found at the Immigration Department’s website as well.

 

The official currency of the city is the Hong Kong dollar (HKD), denoted by “$”. So if you see a dollar sign, consider it HKD and not USD. Prices listed in US dollars have the “USD $” sign before them. The standard exchange rate is USD1 = HKD0.80 but banks may offer some slight variations. And airports as well as hotels will offer the least competitive exchange rates of all.

 

The best place to exchange large amounts is banks and to exchange small amounts is an independent exchange shop. Such shops abound in the tourist places and do not charge the fixed commission as banks do. However, use these shops well within the banking hours to get the best rates. If you have accounts with the HSBC, Standard Chartered or Hang Seng, you may safely and profitably use your ATM debit card instead.