Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Personal Note to Wrestling Fans

Note: The following may contain some questionable language or words that may offend you. Please understand that I am going to use this in context and there is no intention to offend you personally. This is simply my personal opinion and is not meant to reflect the opinion of anybody else on Earth or beyond.
Ok, I get it. Wrestling fans are sometimes the scum of the Earth. Sometimes going to a wrestling event is like a real-life dramatization of Yes, there are some wonderful college-educated people at wrestling events. But then sometimes you have "those people." You know who I'm talking about. I'm sure we could talk for hours about some of those interesting people. My dad always used to say "What has 10 teeth and an IQ of 50?" The answer was "The first 5 rows in a wrestling arena."
Now of course we know that's not the case. We're not all like that. I am a college graduate. I take my mother who is a college graduate, my wife who is a licensed nurse and I know that there are other well-educated and refined people there.
But this is my request of the fans. I'm not going to say don't have fun. Heckle who you want. Boo who you want. Cheer who you want. Stand up, turn around and start chanting "Bingo" if the match is bad. You have paid your money. It is your right. But please... Can we leave race out of it?
The wrestling company I went to this past weekend has a wrestler who is Asian. He is great on the mic, a fun cowardly heel and has worked really hard to establish himself in this company. When he came out to the ring, there was a fan on the front row who asked for their "chicken & rice." I'm not sure how else we were supposed to take this, but I took at as "Oh, look, there's an Asian guy. He must make Chinese food."
Another fan behind me referred to him as "the Chinese guy." This bothers me. Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive to this, but that's just me. I don't know what nationality or ancestry this one wrestler was. I'm curious, but if I don't know, I don't say Chinese. Not in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There are substantial populations of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Laosian, Korean and other nationalities I can't name off the top of my head. I once worked with a Vietnamese fellow who would go apes*** if you called him Chinese.
I am redheaded. I could be Irish, American, Canadian, English, Welsh, Scottish or pretty much anywhere in Europe. But if I walk in public in the US, I'd appreciate somebody not mistaking me for an Irishman and asking me where my pot o' gold is. Or if they think I'm Scottish, I'd ask that they not ask me where my kilt is or call me "Groundskeeper Willie." There are enough reasons to heckle me and not to like me. Can we make my race not one of them?
I am a little disturbed about how we look at this racism. The fans who yelled this at this wrestler would have NEVER said this to a black man. They wouldn't have asked him where his watermelon was or to see him tap-dance. They didn't ask the hillbilly character if he slept with his sister or lived in a trailer. They didn't ask a Hispanic wrestler where their taco was. Why is it ok to heckle an Asian wrestler based on the color of his skin?
When will we start calling a spade a spade? When will we start acknowledging racism when it's there. Every year they play "A Christmas Story" on some Turner network. I watched the end of it this past year for the first time. I was really bothered at the end when the guys are singing at the end. Maybe nobody else hears it that way, but I saw and heard racism. It's just that nobody is ready to call it that.
Fans, my personal note to you. Let's take "Race" and remove it from the table. The same wrestler on the receiving end of this works at a Starbucks. If I wanted to heckle him, I could say, "Where's my latte? (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)" Even if you don't know the wrestler, what happened to a simple "You suck?" When did that lose it's power? I know this might be asking for too much, but Fans, let's class it up. We can be better than that.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 29 should be a good day for boxing. Of course, like any boxing aficionados, I will be seeing a live concert with my wife that night. Most of these fights will be in other countries televised that I won't be able to see, and, with the exception of English or Spanish, won't be able to understand.

Here are some of the big ones.

5-Star Fights

Pontiac, Michigan, United States

Devon Alexander (21-0) vs. Timothy Bradley (26-0)

If you are a boxing fan, heck, even if you're not a boxing fan, how are you NOT salivating over this fight? Two undefeated fighters with nearly 50 fights between them. The #1 Light Welterweight in Bradley going up against the #3 in Alexander. HBO is giving us a fight to end all fights. I'm looking for Bradley to take the win.

Monte Hermoso, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Yesica Yolanda Bopp (13-0) vs. Carina Moreno (21-2)

A 5-star fight according to Bopp is the local Argentian girl that is going to be taking on the American Moreno. Both fighters have fought a really tough schedule through their history.  Bopp is ranked #1 among Light Flyweights. This should be a great fight. And since the tallest is 5'2", we can almost call this the Battle of the Snookies.

4-Star Fights

Lusaka, Zambia

Esther Phiri (11-2-2) vs. Lely Luz Florez (15-4)

The top Light Welterweight from Zambia is bringing in the top Light Welterweight from Colombia. Neither countries are boxing powerhouses, but this is impressive nevertheless. has this as a 4-star fight. Phiri hasn't lost since '05 and Florez is coming off one loss. This should be a nice one. I'm giving the edge to Phiri.

3-Star Fights

Aulnay-sous-Bois, Seine-Saint-Denis, France

Julien Marie Sainte (28-2) vs. Affif Belghecham (19-5-1)

Two of France's top Middleweights are squaring off for their National title. Champion Sainte (#2 French welterweight) is defending his belt against Belghecham (#4 French welterweight). Belghecham is coming off two losses. Sainte is on a 10-fight win streak. Thanks for showing up Belghecham. Sainte should mop you up.

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Nehomar Cermeno (20-2) vs. Victor Terrazas (28-2-1)

Terrazas has one loss since 2004. He's only lost one fight in Mexico in his career.  And guess where the fight is. Yep, you guessed it. His hometown of Guadalajara. Cermeno is ranked #7 among Super Bantamweights. (Terrazas is #44.) Should be an interesting fight. Will the 12th man (sorry, Aggie fan to the end) of the people of Guadalajara be the key to victory? Or will Cermeno take care of Terrazas? I'm going with Cermeno on this one.

Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (41-0-1) vs. Billy Lyell (22-8)

Chavez is one of the most recognizable names for me when it comes to boxing. Maybe it's cause I hear his names on commercials all the time. This will be Chavez' first title defense. I'm not exactly sure how Lyell got this shot, but I don't see him lasting long against Chavez.

Brakpan, Gauteng, South Africa

Cassius Baloyi (37-5-1) vs. Argenis Mendez (17-1)

Baloyi is the #2 South African Super Featherweight (#9 in the world) taking top Dominican Super Featherweight (#17 overall).  Baloyi is 3 for his last 5 and Mendez has won 5 straight. I'm thinking Mendez should walk away from this one.

Nkosinathi Joyi (21-0) vs. Katsunari Takayama (24-4)

Kudos to Brakpan for giving us 2 3-star fights on the same card. Takayama is the #1 Minimumweight from Japan (#5 ranked overall). Joyi is #1 in South Africa and #1 in the world. Looks like this is going to be a great test for Joyi. I say he passes.

Verona, New York, United States

Franklin Lawrence (13-2-2) vs. Jason Estrada (16-3)

So we have two heavyweights going at it. Lawrence is 4 out of his last 5. And yes, all four of those wins have been KO's or TKO's and haven't gone past the 7th round. Estrada has some impressive wins and some even more impressive losses (Tomasz Adamek and Alexander Povetkin). I'm not really sure on this. I think it looks better for Lawrence.

Amanda Serrano (7-0-1) vs. Ela Nunez (9-7-1)

Puerto Rican Serrano will be taking on American resident Nunez in what should be a fun fight. The other 3-star fight on this New York card, Serrano will have her work cut out for her with the experienced veteran Nunez. Should be a great showcase for women's boxing. I'm going with Serrano.

If you’re in any of those areas, check out these fighters. These are great opportunities to stimulate the economy.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Response to John Hodgman-No, YOU’RE Welcome

First of all, I love The Daily Show. I watch it every day without fail. I love Jon Stewart and would prefer to have him tell me the news without me watching it myself (without shame). Also, I think he gives a more balanced opinion on the news than you will find anywhere else. Plus, it was one of the first television shows my daughter ever responded to, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

I’m not going to agree with everything The Daily Show does or says. Such is life. Every once in a while, somebody will say something that annoys me, but I’m able to shrug it off. This particular one, not so much. This segment is brought to us by John Hodgman, who is probably best known for being the PC in Mac commercials. For the full footage, click here.

I take offense to a few things here

1. “Down & dirty sports…”

There is still some negative stigma attached to UFC and cagefighting. (I took the references to cagefighting to refer to UFC. If there was another reference intended, I apologize.)  I’m not sure what you have to do to make the sport legitimate, but that is for another time and place. I really take offense to the word “dirty.” This is not a scene from Fight Club. MMA is a legitimate real sport. There are rules with referees and judges. These are not Roman fights to the death in the Coliseum. Calling the sport “dirty” is a gross mischaracterization.

2. MMA fans are not NASCAR fans.

I do not like NASCAR racing. I think it’s nothing more than cars driving around in a circle. Before all the hate mail arrives, I know it is so much more than that. I know that there are some great achievements with the pit crews. I totally respect what they do, as well as the drivers. I also respect the fan following they have built up over the years. And I respect the loyalty of their fans. They make Deadheads look like Beliebers. And yes, I know. I’ve never experienced it live. I don’t like loud noise, traffic or the people who clog up my highway twice a year for the big Texas Motor Speedway events, so my desire to give it a try isn’t so high.

But I don’t like it, and I don’t see myself ever liking it in the future. That is my opinion, and I am entitled to it.
MMA is not NASCAR. I’d like to think they cater to different markets. If they did cater to the same thing, we’d see UFC getting the same sponsors as NASCAR. I have yet to see the UFC fighter show up with a DuPont logo or the Condom Depot car. I’ve sat very close to the Octagon at local events. There is an entirely different group of people than I would expect to see at a NASCAR event. I work very hard to watch my MMA and follow the sport. Can we maybe try not to put labels on me?

I’m sure there’s some that like both. That’s great. This is not directed at you. Again, I have no hatred against NASCAR. I can’t call it boring; I like baseball. These are all just opinions. Hodgman got to give his; now I got to give mine.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The New Secret to Solving All Problems in Sports

Each year in football, we are given a contest of a very special kind. The Battle for Last Place. There are some epic battles of teams tanking the season so they can get LeBron (How’d that work out for you, Cleveland?), Sidney Crosby or Stephen Strasburg. I really don’t like this and I don’t like rewarding teams with the worst records with having the higher draft picks. I knew some Lions fans that used to console themselves when their team did bad because at least they knew they would get good draft picks (which would have worked if they didn’t have such an incompetent staff).
I really don’t like how some teams face losing. Some of them legitimately have the desire to be the best. They just don’t have the right people in place making the decision: Cowboys (with their unqualified GM), Bengals (the genius who decided on TO & Ochocinco on the same team), Mets (who have removed those who weren’t getting the job done), just to name a few. And then there are those who exist to make a quick buck. The Marlins come to mind first and foremost. This is a team that does a fire sale every year in the hopes that they will make the biggest buck. As a Phillies fan, I appreciate the one less challenge, but I would like to beat the Marlins when their team is trying. Besides, Logan Morrison is one of my favorite personalities on Twitter.
English Football (our soccer) does this. I’m not sure if it would work in the states, and what sports it would work in, but it definitely needs to be something to look at. That is nothing more than “Relegation.” This is a practice of European football. The last 3 teams are sent to a lower league. The top 3 teams in the lower league are sent up to the higher league.
That’s crazy. Yes, it is crazy. But let’s take a look at some sports where it could work:
1. Baseball- This sport is already made for relegation. Since Pittsburgh already acts like a farm team for the New York Yankees, let’s let them do that. I understand that the Farm System works and I’m not necessarily saying let’s do away with it. But maybe we need to look at sending the Nationals down to the minors, since their team is already a minor league team in a major league stadium. Why not let the Durham Bulls get their crack in the majors? Goodness knows, their 88-55 record earned a spot in the majors more than the 57-105 Pirates. I know we’d have to completely revamp the minors system, but why not? Why not threaten the MLB owners that if they are the bottom 3, they’re replaced by a lower league’s top 3? Let’s make it exciting.
2. Hockey-see baseball
3. College sports-Now, again, I know these divisions are not so simple. I know that there are academic standards and such. But if you take a look at 1-12 San Jose State, how do they deserve to be in the top division? What about New Mexico, Akron & Memphis (all 1-11)? Let’s give Eastern Washington a chance to get in the mix. What about Delaware? They gave us Joe Flacco. How about Villanova? Rememeber when Appalachian State beat Michigan and could do no wrong?
Sports, above all else, loves its Cinderella stories. What better way to get one than relegation?
Is this the answer? Maybe, maybe not.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Definitive Moment That Will Silence All Roids Talk Forever, Part II & III

So in the last article, we talked about why we are more intelligent than asterisks.
2. PED's do not normally make you a better ball-player.
So we had the Mitchell Report released. There is a kind of McCarthy-istic black-balling for anybody named in the report.
There are 4 players that have indisputable Hall-of-Fame numbers:
Barry Bonds (all-time home run leader)
Rafael Palmeiro (500 home runs, 3,000 hits)
Gary Sheffield (500 home runs)
Roger Clemens (300 wins)
Then you have some bubble people:
Matt Williams (4-time Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winner each)
Troy Glaus (2000 Home Run King, '02 World Series MVP)
Wally Joyner (He was one of my favorites. 2060 hits, 400+ doubles)
Kevin Brown (211 wins, 6-time All-Star)
Miguel Tejada ('02 MVP, 6-time All-Star)
Mo Vaughn ('95 MVP, 5 seasons 35+ HR's)
Andy Pettitte (240 wins, 5 time World Champion)
Jason Giambi (415 home runs, 2000 MVP)
But then you have no-name players. The logic states that PED's gave these players an unfair advantage. Therefore, anyone who used PED's should be great. You want to look at some names on the Mitchell Report?
Marvin Benard-averaged 10 home runs for his 9 seasons, 54 career homers
Larry Bigbie-hit 31 career home runs, hitting 15 for a career high
Darren Holmes- finished in Top 10 and games pitched and saves once; had a 6.35 ERA in 1994
The list goes on. John Rocker, Ricky Bones, Mark Carreon. Why did none of those guys have Cy Youngs or MVP's or 60-home run seasons?
If the PED's were that much a factor why is Mark Carreon not in the Top 100 in home runs? Why was Matt Herges not a Cy Young Award winner? The PED's should not have given these guys any more of a chance to play well.
So previously, we talked about how history will look back on these players and why PED's don't make you a better player. Now let's look at past cheaters in the sport and how we treated them.
3. We celebrated cheaters before.
Baseball has been around for a long time. Stats have been kept since 1871. Like anything that has existed for such an amount of time, there is bound to be some dark stories along with the good.
Players who used Performance-Enhancing-Drugs cheated, even though the substances were not tested for at that time. (Way to go, Bud Selig.) They got an unfair advantage. This is not the first time that somebody has taken an unfair advantage to be a better player. Let's look at an interesting time in baseball history-The Spitballers.
According to Wikipedia, (Stop laughing. It was there.)
"In addition, there were serious issues with the spitball, as a variation on the standard spitball called for the pitcher to smear the entire surface of the normally white ball with a mixture of tobacco spit and dirt or mud in order to stain it the same deep brown color as the infield, making it nearly impossible for batters to see or avoid in low-light conditions.Ray Chapman was famously struck in the temple and killed by a spitball thrown by pitcherCarl Mays during a poorly lit game; Chapman is the second of only two Major League Baseball players to have died as a result of an injury received in a game (the first was Mike "Doc" Powers in 1909)."
The most famous pitcher to use the Spitball was Ed Walsh. How was he rewarded? Going into the Hall-of-Fame in 1946, 10 years after its creation. And guess what record he holds? Oh, yeah. He's the all-time leader in ERA.
17 players were granted an exemption in 1920 that gave them the opportunity to still throw the Spitter. Stan Covelski, Red Faber & Burleigh Grimes were three of the names of the 17 grandfathered in. They were also all three Hall-of-Famers.
What is the difference between a spitball and performance-enhancing drugs? Why do we revere Ed Walsh and not Barry Bonds? What really is the difference between the two? We cannot have it both ways. We can't crucify Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro and not crucify Ed Walsh or Gaylord Perry.
Those guys were not that different.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Definitive Moment That Will Silence All Roids Talk Forever, Part I

That's right. You're welcome. I'm going to silence this argument once and for all.

1. We don't need no stinkin' asterisks.

I have an eighteen-month-old daughter. She is the light of my life, and I'm beginning to teach her all the important things she should know. Two nights ago, Georgetown was playing St. John's on ESPN2 in college basketball. I explained to her who John Thompson was. We talked about Georgetown, John Thompson II & III. She responded appropriately by trying to take her shoes off and trying to get the remote.

I don't need asterisks, because I'm going to explain to my daughter all she needs to know about baseball history. Right now, when we watch baseball, I tell her all about Chase Utley & Ryan Howard & Cole Hamels. When we go to a Rangers game, I tell her all about Johnny Oates, Nolan Ryan & Jackie Robinson. We'll talk all about my favorite players when I was her age: Steve Buechele (just because we got to boo every time he came to the plate), Ruben Sierra, Rafael Palmeiro & Mark Holtz, the legendary radio announcer. And hopefully, we'll go over the new retired jersey numbers: Ivan Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers & Josh Hamilton.

Then there's the players we'll talk about when we go through baseball history. We'll talk about the players I was lucky to see live: Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Robin Yount, Jim Rice, Frank Robinson (he was managing the Nationals; I'm not that old), Cal Ripken, Jr., Ken Griffey, Jr. Then we'll talk about all my favorite players from baseball history: PeeWee Reese, Mike Schmidt, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tinker-Evans-Chance, Ernie Banks, the whole Snider-Mantle-Mays debate.

And we'll talk about who had the most of something. We'll talk about how Nolan Ryan had the most strikeouts, Pete Rose had the most hits, and Rickey Henderson had the most steals. We'll also talk about wins. The person who had the most wins in his career was Cy Young. He had 511. I'll tell my daughter he was legendary. But he also holds the record for most wins, innings pitched and games started. And then we'll come to a category that will be very uncomfortable, but we'll have to go there. We'll get to the name Barry Bonds. We'll talk about Barry Bonds and his career. I can't hide that he was there. We'll talk about Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, A-Rod, all of them. I will explain to her about how they tried to cheat and were quite successful and even ended up being good for baseball at the time.

Parents, baseball historians, talking heads on sports talk shows, even fledgling bloggers like me, it's our job to educate and pass on what really happened. The future of baseball lies with us.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

UFC 125 Preview

I've put UFC through the ringer recently for their crappy cards and fights. This night is not one of them.
Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar (13-1) (c) vs. Gray Maynard (10-0, 1 NC)
I am so looking forward to this fight. Edgar is 13-1 with only one loss in his career. Guess who his one loss is against. Is it this guy?  How about this one? Or the most brutal of themall? Nope, it's none other than his opponent, Gray Maynard. So Maynard knows what to do to beat Edgar, and now two and a half years later, there is a title on the line. I like and respect both of these fighters a lot for their support of Team Darius. My opinion: Frankie is going to do what it takes to beat Maynard this time.
Winner: Edgar
Middleweight bout: Chris Leben (25-6) vs. Brian Stann (9-3)
Is there a greater Good vs. evil storyline? Brian Stann, Naval Academy graduate, former Marine vs. Chris "The Crippler" Leben, one of the worst human beings in MMA history, the guy who pissed on Jason Thacker's bed and has tested positive for steroids. I will be unashamedly rooting for Stann, but I don't see a lot of big names in his history of wins. I'm going to go with Leben for the win.
Winner: Leben
Light Heavyweight bout: Brandon Vera (11-5) vs. Thiago Silva (14-2)
I like Brandon Vera. I also like Thiago Silva. This should be a good fight. Both fighters need this victory pretty bad. Vera has won 2 of his last 5. Silva has lost 2 of his last 3. Somebody needs to start winning again. I'm going with Silva. I think he has more momentum.
Winner: Silva
Welterweight bout: Nate Diaz (13-5) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1, 1 NC)
I don't like Nick Diaz. Therefore I don't like Nate Diaz. Sorry, guilt by association. Diaz has some impressive skins on his wall: Marcus Davis, Rory Markham, Melvin Guillard. Kim has a few, including Amir Sadollah, one of my favorites. This will be a very big test for Kim, but I still will go with Diaz.
Winner: Diaz
Lightweight bout: Clay Guida (27-11) vs. Takanori Gomi (32-6, 1 NC)
One thing you can set your watch to: Clay Guida will go hard. Nobody ever will accuse him of phoning it in. That's why he's one of my top 3 favorite fighters. Both are 3 for their last 5. I see this one being pretty even. Guida is a full onslaught whenever he fights, so I see him going through Gomi.
Winner: Guida
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