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Archive for May, 2007

I was watching ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft Lottery tonight and was highly amused by a sequence after they threw it back to Dan Patrick and company. (By the way, does anyone seem less confident or qualified to be talking sports than Dan Patrick at this stage? Watching him cover the NBA is sorta like watching Jay Leno–his street cred is long gone.)

Anyway, in about a fifteen second span, this is what we uncover about Jon Barry:

  1. He “guaranteed” the Celtics would get the top pick. (Or maybe it was the top two picks–I was watching the HD tv, not the DVR tv.) The “guarantee” is one of the most overused cliches in sports, but at least when an athlete does it a game in which the athlete is playing and perhaps will have some impact on is coming up.  He might as well be “guaranteeing” the dealer is about to deal him a jackpot. And why was he making that “guarantee” anyway? The Celts were one of the few teams he didn’t play for in his career.
  2. Barry went on to say, “And what about the Grizzlies? They fell to fifth.” No, they didn’t. They’re fourth. It was impossible for them to get the fifth pick.
  3. Finally, in talking about the Portland Trailblazers and the number one pick, he said that it is “not a foregone conclusion they take Oden.”

Okay, that seems reasonable. I suppose they might come to consider Durant the better player. Certainly stranger things have happened.

But that’s not where Barry was going. Instead, he decided to assert that they might trade the pick and the chance to trade the first genuine superstar center prospect in forever… for some veteran players.

If Barry was serious, then he’s an idiot and there’s no reason anyone should pay him to talk about basketball. But right after he said it, Michael Wilbon jumped all over him just like it was one of those contrived PTI segments while Barry laughed sheepishly into the camera. (Everyone loves how Jon Stewart busted up and basically killed “Crossfire” on CNN–I wish he’d do the same to PTI.) Personally, I think Barrywas told to be controversial because ESPN is committed to dumbing down sports as far as possible. Barry didn’t really believe there’s any chance Portland would trade the pick for some dopey veterans; he was just setting up the “conflict” so professional fake-arguer Michael Wilbon could swat him down, just like they do on sports talk radio all the time. Either way, it’s pathetic. And it’s not like it would be unprecedented for ESPN to do this. 

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Just a few quick thoughts:

It’s hard to judge from home; I’ll be the first to acknowledge that. Still, I think that was an exceptionally close fight and the close split decision was completely fair. Mayweather did a tremendous job throughing his potshots here and there, landing a few flush, but Oscar was much more competent defensively than I believe even the HBO crowd was giving him credit for. In the sixth he made Mayweather look comical as he slipped punch after punch in the middle of the ring.

Still, in totality, I suppose the speed advantage was enough. There were a number of close rounds early in the fight but, of the easy-to-score rounds, Mayweather had the clear advantage. Oscar needed to run the table on the close rounds to pull it out and he just didn’t have enough. You have to wonder if he’ll be thinking tonight about whether he did enough in the third and the eleventh, not to mention why he put the jab away in the last third of the fight. Nonetheless, it might have been an even fight or maybe one round advantage to Mayweather–Max Kellerman’s crazy if he really thinks that was some kind of virtuoso performance. Mayweather might have won but it was hardly the kind of genius victory that Kellerman tried to portray.

As for Larry Merchant’s final question about a rematch? Actually, the fight was interesting enough to be worthy of one, but it probably won’t happen because the spectacle wouldn’t be there. I’d love to see it but I ain’t paying $64.95 for it. Not that I didn’t think tonight’s match was worthy of that price, but the dramatics weren’t there to make me want to see it again that bad.

Ultimately, it was an interesting but frustrating fight, a phrase that in many ways sums up de la Hoya’s career.

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de la Hoya-Mayweather

Years ago, in the days when Usenet ruled the world, I spent a lot of time knocking around rec.sports.boxing, or RSB. There were probably 40 or so “regulars” at the time I was there: i cheeuhuahua, The Sanity Cruzer, Dannews (aka Dan Rafael, now a bigshot boxing writer), dci, and lots of other internet handles.

I don’t hang there anymore for two reasons: the signal-to-noise ratio and I’m just not as big a boxing fan as I used to be. Boxing is a difficult sport to love because it just breaks your heart over and over. The bad decisions, questionable stoppages, ridiculous pay-per-view prices, lazy fighters, multiple world champions, criminal promoters, and so forth have sapped much of the enthusiasm I had for what was once my favorite sport. The rise of MMA and UFC is just a crushing indictment of everything that’s wrong (in America, at least) with the sweet science.

 But this fight, which Bill Simmons has called The Last Big Fight, has my interest pinging off the charts again. (And Simmons, with whom I have a love-hate relationship, is pretty much dead-on here, although anyone who can’t see Mayweather-Mosley coming just doesn’t watch enough boxing. Still, I suppose it is legitimate whether that qualifies as a superfight.)

Anyway, back on RSB I learned what has proved a useful trick in predicting the results of boxing matches. It’s simple, really, perhaps so obvious as to be overlooked. Still, ever since I learned it I must admit it has served me incredibly well in predicting the outcomes of boxing matches.

Here it is: there are only four possible outcomes to any fight. Either fighter may win by knockout or either fighter may win by decision. (Of course, there are other possibilities, like draws and disqualifications and such, but you don’t account for those unless it’s a Tyson fight.) So, you figure out what the chances of each are and you’re good to go.

1. Mayweather by decision: As much as I want Oscar to win, Floyd is so pure and so fast that this is obviously the most likely outcome. I’ll put it at 50%.

2. de la Hoya by knockout: Oscar’s power is a little overrated in my opinion. He hasn’t really been a destroyer since he moved up from 135. However, this is the first time in a long while where he’ll be boxing a legitimately smaller guy moving up to fight him, plus I think he knows this is his best chance of winning so he may be gunning for the KO more than he was against, say, Felix Trinidad. Put it at 25%.

3. Mayweather by KO: Could Oscar get old here? Probably not, but Mayweather has incredibly fast hands. I think he may get to Oscar a lot. Enough to stop him? Probably not, but Oscar’s been down a few times and I’m still not 100% comfortable with his effort in the Bernard Hopkins fight. If Mayweather’s all over him the question of whether the good life has sapped Oscar’s heart may become the story of the night. Call this 15%

4. de la Hoya by decision: Yes, it’s Cinqo de Mayo, and Oscar could drop Mayweather a couple times, get some 10-8 rounds, and maybe do enough to get by. But Oscar has lost close fights in Vegas before that I think he had won on the cards (Trinidad, Mosley II) so there’s no reason to think the crowd or circumstances might give him some advantage on the scorecards. With his speed disadvantage I just don’t see Oscar having a chance to get enough points to win this way, although if his power overwhelms Mayweather but not enough to knock him out, it could happen. Call it 10%.

And there you have it. Mayweather’s got a 65% chance of winning, and I think he will.  At the current odds that makes him a good bet and my guess is the fabled “late money” (aka, the smart money) will go his way. (Although he’s always been the underdog, the betting has been in Oscar’s favor since the initial line but it already seems to be pushing back.)

We’ll see how smart I am.

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It’s a staple of blogs, really. There’s the occassional blogger who keeps churning out content everyday, but for every one of those there’s a hundred or more of the rest of us who go at it a while and then just kinda stop.

 And then, at some point, there’s the ubiquitous “I’ve returned/My life is more settled/I’m going to be posting more/blahblahblah” post. This is that for me.

Yeah, I changed jobs and moved. But the truth of the matter is when I started this insignificant piece of nothing all I really wanted was a means of getting my research on John Bunting out there. I’d worked hard at it and thought it was revealing in a way most people hadn’t considered. So I dropped Will Leitch over at Deadspin an email thanking him for being an inspiration and asking him to drop by from time to time, secretly hoping he might link to it. 

And then he linked to it.

 I don’t know if I’d call it an “instalanche” but several thousand people stopped by. Using the neat little wordpress tools I could tell all sorts of places were linking to it: team fansites, newspaper blogs, etc. All of a sudden we were in the top 5 most read wordpress blogs.

And then I thought I needed to churn out some words to keep things going, so while I wrote a few things I actually enjoyed and wanted to write, I also did some junk just as filler. I even did a hacky little “NFL Pick of the Week” deal just for content.  I decided just to write about sports because some blog-advice article had said that if you want readership you need to specialize.

It was all stupid.

So this is Vandermint Auditorium, Mark II. I’m not going to try to be a world-famous blogger this time. I don’t have the time, the creativity, or the ability to be a bigshot. I’m not going to worry about “content”. I’ll probably never have more than a few views of anything I ever write again and that’s cool. I’m not going to just write about sports if I want to talk about music or current affairs or whatever. I’m going to write about what I want, when I want, and I’ll do it for me. There’s a lot of good things that happen when one decides to express themselves: it makes you sharper, allows you to hone arguments, even can be theraputic. And of course, you can get these benefits even if no one ever reads what you wrote, so this will be like my own journal, except blogs are marginally cooler and more masculine than journals. (I also feel like I needed to do my part to live up to my title from Time as “Person of the Year“.)

Thus, here ends my cliche’ return post. Of course, the only thing more cliche’ than a return post in the blogosphere is a return post and then the blogger never writes anything new.

Great. I’m already feeling the pressure of generating some content.

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