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Archive for September, 2006

See ya next week

Have a trip out of town planned that will take me away until next Monday I suspect, but in any event I appreciate everybody stopping by. Getting linked on Deadspin ain’t a bad way to get started on a new blog and I thank Will Leitch for that. (Plus a lot of other nice places, although I don’t know why a site for marathoners linked to my article on the Chonicle reporters, but whatever.)

Have a good weekend.

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NFL Week 4 Pick of the Week

Washington (Plus 3) over Jacksonville

The Skins really need this game, Brunell will want to beat his old team,  and Jacksonville has had three emotional games in a row: the season-opener against Dallas (everybody gets up for Dallas), the Monday Night slugfest with the Steelers, and the big divisional road game at Indianapolis. I think their intensity slips this week and the Skins will cover as a home dog.

 The Saints are another great candidate to have an emotional slip but at -7 against the Panthers I’m not as crazy about it.

Season to date: 0-0

Last week: Blog didn’t exist

Lines: Bodog via the Sportscrew

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So Tyson is going to start fighting exhibitions. On PPV.

That’s pay-per-view. That means people are going to pay money to watch a fight on television that doesn’t count. They already have those–it’s called professional wrestling. (Except I kinda doubt Tyson will be squaring off in a “Hell in a Cell” match.)

 There’s really only 3 ways this can end:

1.This is a failure. Nobody cares, nobody pays, and Tyson and his handlers have to come up with some new scheme to hustle a few bucks.

2. At this stage probably the most interesting fight Mike Tyson could possibly have is with the self-proclaimed “King of the Four Rounders” Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch. Although his place in the sports culture is nothing compared to where it was several years ago, this would be a marketable event. Nobody is going to care that Butterbean lost four fights in 2005. Back in 2002 Butterbean actually fought a decrepit Larry Holmes to a 10 round loss by unanimous decision, including a knockdown of “The Easton Assassin”. Tyson probably isn’t as far-gone as Holmes was but ‘Bean wouldn’t have to worry about going ten rounds either. It may be a travesty, but for a four round fight? This thing could sell.

3. Tyson looks okay in the first exhibition. Scores an impressive knockout. He trains a bit and gets another one in the second. All of a sudden we hear how he’s regaining his fire/falling in love with boxing again/rededicating himself to training/etc. After a couple more victories he announces his comeback. All of it will almost seem…scripted.

My guess is the first one is how it will turn out, and if the fights are on the up-and-up, Tyson could lose any of them.

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Last night I read an intriguing interview with Roberto Duran over at ESPN.com that was prefaced with an otherwise boring introduction, but for this line:

Widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter of all-time, the Panamanian won world titles at four different weights and fought in five different decades.

Do what now? So I get all geeked up about it and plan to make a post about it tonight (or now, or whatever) and in preparing to do so I reopen that page. They’ve fixed it:

Arguably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all-time, the Panamanian won world titles at four different weights and fought in five different decades.

That’s better.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Duran a lot. He certainly belongs in the conversation somewhere. But saying that he’s the best pound-for-pound of all time is sorta like saying that John Elway is the greatest NFL quarterback of all time: it’s reasonable, but without much difficulty you can find someone who was better than he was at basically everything. It definitely isn’t “widely considered” that Duran is the best; if anybody is, it would be Sugar Ray Robinson yet there’s still plenty of people who would dispute that.

Oh well. ESPN ain’t real good about tuning down the hype but glad they did in this case.

Interesting that Duran says in the interview that if he could redo any of his Leonard fights, he does not choose the second one, the famous “no mas” showdown that utilmately mars his legacy and is what the sports mainstream probably best remembers him for. Instead, he’d rather fight the first one again, a close but clear victory, saying he would “beat him more convincingly”.

I guess maybe he thinks if he’d done that, the rematch might never have happened. Still, that’s a dern strange position. My guess is if Mike Tyson could have one do-over, he’d pick the rematch with Evander Holyfield when he bit the champ’s ear off instead of seeing if he could improve on his 91 second demolition of Michael Spinks. You never know, though. People who get hit in the head for a living tend to be eccentric.

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I have to be the worst Cincinnati Reds fan on the face of the planet–I can’t stand Pete Rose and I think Fire Joe Morgan may be the most consistently amusing sports blog out there.

Click the link and enjoy the latest and greatest Joe Morgan chat recap. My favorite sequence:

Luke (Chicago): What if the Twins and Tigers tie for the division? Are they forced to play an extra game (while other teams rest) just to determine the seedings?

Joe Morgan: I’m not sure, but I think it would go on what they did within the division. What they did head to head. I think those are a couple of the tiebreakers. I think if they’re tied, they should play an extra game. In fact, I think that will happen.”

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A few days before I started this blog I sent an email to Wright Thompson for what I thought was a very uninformed (though typical of those in the media) screed against the judge who found San Fransisco Chronicle writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams in contempt for not divulging their sources in the BALCO/Barry Bonds case, and worse, the prosecutors attempting to get to the bottom of things. But now I have a blog, so why not go public?

First, here’s the article over at the Worldwide Leader.

And my letter in response (slightly revised):

Mr. Thompson,

I find your article on ESPN.com about the San Fransisco Chronicle
reporters being held in contempt uninformed at best and dangerous at
worst.

I think the media in this country would have a difficult time arguing
that they suffer from very many restrictions. Look at any of the
tabloids on sale in any checkout line at your local grocery store.
Look at the magazines behind the counter at your local convenience
store. Go to your local university and check out what zines and the
like are available for free at the library and student union. Or take
a stroll on the internet…it should be clear that no matter whether
you are talking about books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, whatever,
the media has basically free reign.

But there are some institutions bigger and even more important than the media. The grand jury process and its absolute guarantee of
confidentiality is one of them.

Susan Brenner, a professor of law at Dayton, once wrote:

“Many years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court explained why grand jury
proceedings are secret. According to the Court, which was relying on
earlier common law, there are four reasons why grand jury proceedings
are secret. Secrecy prevents those who are being investigated from
interfering with witnesses and otherwise tampering with the
investigation. It encourages witnesses who might be reluctant to
testify if their comments were made public to speak freely when they
are brought before the grand jury. It decreases the likelihood that
one who is about to be indicted by a grand jury will flee and thereby
avoid being brought to trial on those charges. And, finally, it
protects innocent persons whose names may be implicated in a grand
jury investigation but who will never be indicted.”

You and those in your profession who believe the law shouldn’t apply
to really juicy stories are small-minded and, in my view, greedy. The
media has broad power and great authority under the Constitution but
the confidentiality of the Grand Jury trumps the intentions of the
press, whether good or bad.

I feel you make the same mistake that most in your profession do,
confusing “confidentiality” with “secrecy”. A grand jury proceeding
isn’t the same as some corporation playing “hide-the-ball” about some
wicked thing it is doing. Like the media, the grand jury is seeking
truth. In the same way that the media (usually) guarantees that
persons may go on background, the grand jury guarantees
confidentiality as it goes about finding out what there is to know.
The difference is that it is a statutory guarantee of confidentiality
to protect an important judicial process
and not the bargain a
journalist makes to get information, sell papers, and win Pulitzers.

It is galling to see you heap praise on Williams and Fainaru-Wade and
criticize the government. You say that the government lawyers can’t
see the forest for the trees but you’re completely turned around–it
is you that can’t do that. The reporters you credit for “pursuing the
truth…isn’t that what the government is supposed to do?” are
reporting on the truth that the government is uncovering! How can you
not recognize that?! These reporters have found themselves in trouble
not for some information they uncovered but for distributing
information the federal prosecutors are bringing out in front of the
grand jury. By not honoring the confidentiality of that process, the
next pair of reporters may not get a story because people in this
country may become loathe to come forward in this or some other grand
jury because they can’t trust their guarantee of confidentiality to
mean anything to the press.

Well, it has to mean something to the court. And I’m glad that it does.

You owe the federal attorneys an apology. “They’d spent lots of money going to law school, working hard to get these jobs and, instead of helping make the world a better place, they were sending difference makers to jail.”

Wrong, sir. They are the difference makers. They are the ones working
hard to make the world a better place. They are not working hard just
so some overzealous reporter, no matter how well-intentioned, can just
recycle the information they are gathering. Give credit to Williams
and Fainaru-Wade for what they uncovered on their own, but don’t you
dare paint them as heroes and the federal attorneys as something less
for even one word they gleaned from grand jury testimony. It’s easy to
confuse the guys making millions from book sales and the guys
following the law of the land in doing the real grunt work in the
court system, but you should take the time to understand the
difference.

Sincerely,

Vandermint Auditorium (my real name!)

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This news is fairly dated at this point but it was news to me. My favorite fighter of all time, the guy that got me interested in boxing, has been arrested. Again.

“The “Macho Man” is in trouble with the law. According to the New York Sun, Hector Camacho, Sr. was arrested on assault charges, along with his live-in girlfriend, Bonita Money, at a Midtown hotel on Sunday morning.

The police report states that Camacho and Money got into an argument at about 3 a.m. in Paquitas Café in the Fairfield section of the Bronx. Money called police from inside the bar on the ground floor of the W Hotel in Midtown and told them that Camacho assaulted her.

When the police arrived, both Camacho and Money alleged the other had been the attacker. Although police said there no visible signs of abuse, both were arrested for assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor charge in New York.” Source: BoxingScene.com (emphasis mine)

The easy joke is the one I made in my headline–Camacho’s going on about two decades now of a fight career where he’s survived without inflicting “visible signs of abuse” on his opposition.

If Camacho came along today I know I would hate him. Perhaps more than any other boxer who ever lived he missed the point of Muhammad Ali–Camacho really thought the flash and the hype were more important than the substance. He truly was an astonishing talent but he didn’t care to maintain it, and all too soon decided that his job was to be a showman first then a fighter. He abused drugs and clinched his way to lopsided losses whenever met with superior opposition, content to survive rather than attempting to win. He got stopped for having sex with a woman while driving his Ferrari and, when asked about Mike Tyson after the Evander Holyfield “bite fight”, stated that Mike’s problem was that he, “[has] all these nigger-attitude people around him that make him act the way he does, like a little beast.”

And there was this. And apparently, if the story above is accurate, he’s the kind of guy who dates a woman named “Bonita Money”. And so on.

Still to this day, if anyone asks me who my all-time favorite fighter is, I’ll say (without hesitation) Hector “Macho” Camacho. I’ll defend some of his controversial wins and make the case that he should be a first-ballot, automatic Hall of Famer. I guess in the end Camacho embodies what I’ve discovered about boxing: it’s a really, really tough sport to love; in fact, sometimes it seems like it wants you to hate it.

Oh well. I could have done worse…

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