“Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.”
Mariano Rivera

Mar­i­ano Rivera’s illus­tri­ous career will come to a close this week­end in Hous­ton. Here’s what I hope hap­pens, and I truly mean this with no mal­ice in my heart: Sun­day after­noon, last game of the sea­son, bot­tom of the ninth, two outs, Yan­kees with a 1-run lead, bases loaded, Rivera on the mound, Jose Altuve at the plate…and Altuve hits a walk-off dou­ble to win the game.

That’s how Rivera’s career comes to a close…with a whim­per in Minute Maid Park against the Hous­ton Astros.

I don’t want this because I hate Mo. To the con­trary, I’ve seen the man pitch in per­son at Yan­kee Sta­dium dozens of times over the course of the last 19 years and I admire his abil­i­ties greatly. Nor do I want this sim­ply because I’m an Astros fan and I’m look­ing for at least one moment of suc­cess dur­ing what has been a mis­er­able three-season stretch of los­ing. I always want the Astros to win, but this is about more than tak­ing one mean­ing­less game.

I was hes­i­tant to write this col­umn. I’ll admit, I got tears in my eyes when I watched Rivera’s final walk off the mound last night in Yan­kee Sta­dium. It was touch­ing and ele­gant. Rivera is clearly one of the classi­est pro­fes­sional ath­letes in any game, at any time.

I’m happy that I had the priv­i­lege of watch­ing him pitch and he deserves a world of acco­lades.

No, my prob­lems reside with this season-long deity wor­ship of Rivera. This is more about my frus­tra­tion with Major League Base­ball, with its sports­writ­ers and its fans. Con­tinue read­ing »

Jones v. Gustafsson

Here’s the funny thing about great­ness and mak­ing things look easy: fans both love it and hate it.

Take, for exam­ple, Floyd May­weather. His diehard sup­port­ers love every­thing he does. But fans of the sport, while acknowl­edg­ing his bril­liance, have their com­plaints. Yes, he’s sub­lime defen­sively, but there’s a large swath of peo­ple out there that want to see him strug­gle; they want to see him have to dig down and answer some ques­tions he’s never been asked before—or at least not since he first fought Jose Luis Castillo.

Georges St. Pierre has fallen into that cat­e­gory, too. Since he’s taken on a safety-first approach after los­ing to Matt Serra in 2007, he’s been con­tent to wres­tle his way to easy 4–1/5–0 deci­sion vic­to­ries. He’s clearly excep­tional, but six straight 5-round fights has added an air of inevitabil­ity around his bouts: He’s going to win, it prob­a­bly won’t be all that inter­est­ing (sans the Car­los Con­dit fight) and it’s going to go the full 25 min­utes.

Jon Jones is light years away from being a tired, bor­ing mixed mar­tial artist. Prior to Sat­ur­day night, only Rashad Evans was able to sur­vive long enough to hear the final horn of a five-round con­test. His strik­ing is scin­til­lat­ing. His wrestling is elite. He’s dom­i­nated a division—light heavyweight—that has his­tor­i­cally been the UFC’s deep­est. The names that Jones has taken out are some of the sport’s great­est fight­ers: Shogun Rua, Quin­ton Jack­son, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Chael Son­nen and Evans. Con­tinue read­ing »

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez

Com­ing into work today, I was excited to talk about Floyd Mayweather’s easy vic­tory over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez from Sat­ur­day night. I had watched the fight with a bunch of true box­ing fans and was left inspired, but I wanted to hear what the layper­son had to say.

That was a bad idea. After all, laypeo­ple tend to be morons.

One of my cowork­ers said Mayweather-Alvarez was bor­ing; after the first few rounds he was like, ‘Can this be over already?’ Per­haps most damn­ing, another friend said, “That fight was fixed.” I tried my best to con­tain my rage over the sheer stu­pid­ity of this com­ment and explain why that was not the case…but she wasn’t buy­ing. “You’d be naïve to think that that fight couldn’t be fixed,” said the per­son who had never watched a May­weather fight before…because she would know.

So, my high from that fight was deflated rather quickly. Then I look around the inter­net and I am pretty sure that CJ Ross, the incom­pe­tent (pos­si­bly cor­rupt) judge who scored the fight even, made just as many head­lines as May­weather him­self. Con­tinue read­ing »

May v Alvarez

Much of the talk in advance of Floyd May­weather vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has been about the busi­ness of box­ing: how many buys will this do; will it break the all-time record of 2.3 mil­lion for May­weather vs. Oscar De La Hoya; how much is “Money” mak­ing; how big a star is Canelo really; and what does this say about the present and future of box­ing?

All wor­thy ques­tions, but ones which obscure another impor­tant point—this is actu­ally going to be a very good fight. If you buy this card (and you should, if you’ve ever cared for this sport) you will get your Money’s worth.

Start with the basics. At 36 years old with 44 pro fights, every­one knows who and what Floyd May­weather is as a fighter. His defense remains superla­tive and among the best in the sport’s his­tory, his quick­ness appears largely undimmed at this point, his power is solid at this weight and his offen­sive energy and tech­nique have actu­ally become under­rated. He con­tin­ues to pos­sess one of the finest fighter’s minds in the his­tory of this sport and that’s say­ing some­thing in box­ing. He’ll never be what his most ardent fans say he is, but he’s an easy choice for top-50 of all time and not that much harder a call for top-25. He’s great in almost every sense of that word.

Saul Alvarez is where this bout gets com­pli­cated. Derided early in his career as a put-up job for his com­bi­na­tion of good looks and slow career build, Alvarez has demon­strated both a fighter’s heart and seri­ous balls of late by choos­ing to take on Austin Trout. Con­tinue read­ing »

Mayweather-Alvarez

Before he fought Oscar de la Hoya, Shane Mosley was a great fighter toil­ing away in rel­a­tive obscu­rity.

Those who paid atten­tion to box­ing cer­tainly knew of Mosley; HBO had been try­ing to pimp him for years, but he wasn’t able to cross over. Maybe he was too nice—too mil­que­toast. Maybe it was because he didn’t have a built-in eth­nic fan base. He’s an African-American rep­re­sent­ing South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. He would’ve been more of a draw if his last name was Bar­rera.

Despite his slow march to fame, after Mosley beat de la Hoya, casual sports fans took notice and thought this was a mas­sive upset. It wasn’t of course. Those in the know, those who had watched Mosley as an elite ama­teur and as a dom­i­nant light­weight under­stood that he had a style that could poten­tially give the Golden Boy fits.

After Mosley beat de la Hoya, his name started to res­onate with main­stream sports fans and media out­lets. He never became a house­hold name the way that even your mom knew who Oscar was, but Mosley became a Top Billing B-Side and in the process made mil­lions. When he fought, Sports­Cen­ter would at least acknowl­edge his existence—a rar­ity for the World Wide Leader.

If Mosley would’ve lost that fight—or worse, if he was anni­hi­lated inside of four rounds—he likely never would’ve been heard from again out­side of box­ing cir­cles. He would’ve been Ste­vie John­ston.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez faces some­thing of a sim­i­lar cross­roads. If on Sat­ur­day he man­ages to upset Floyd May­weather, he will be launched into super­star­dom in the US, as opposed to be a house­hold name in Mex­ico and in pock­ets of His­panic Ameirca. His bank account will swell. ESPN will pro­vide updates on him and not just on ESPN Deportes. Con­tinue read­ing »

Floyd Mayweather

Here’s a help­ful tip for jour­nal­ists writ­ing about Floyd May­weather for main­stream pub­li­ca­tions: Floyd is not the “last great Amer­i­can prizefighter”—there will be another, you can bet Floyd’s mil­lions on that.

As long as there are fans will­ing to pay a good chunk of money to watch two men beat the piss out of each other, there will be box­ing. And as long as there is a sport of box­ing there will be another “great Amer­i­can prize­fighter”, who will be fol­lowed by yet another “great Amer­i­can prize­fighter”, who will even­tu­ally be usurped by the next “great Amer­i­can prize­fighter”.

Box­ing will never be the main­stream attrac­tion it once was, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t sur­vive by find­ing a com­fort­able niche. Much like how Hyman Roth had been dying from the same heart attack for the last 20 years, sur­round­ing the sport of box­ing there has been a death knell since the turn of the century—the 20th cen­tury.

For more than 100 years this sport has been dying, yet here we are, talk­ing about a fight that will hap­pen in one week that will break the sport’s record for the largest live gate. On Sep­tem­ber, 14, Floyd May­weather will face 22-year-old Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in a Super­Fight where no one gives a damn about any belts that may or may not be at stake. Con­tinue read­ing »

Darren Barker

I’ve been watch­ing box­ing for most of my life and I’ve seen some truly hum­bling dis­plays of tough­ness and courage.

For me, the gold stan­dard will always be the ninth round of Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward I, where Ward dropped Gatti with a left to the body at the start of the stanza and was very lit­er­ally bat­ter­ing him from pil­lar to post—to the point that Gatti was lucky the fight wasn’t stopped—only to see Gatti make a mini stand at the end of the round and he even went on to win the 10th and final round. It was breath­tak­ing.

You could just as eas­ily throw Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo I, round 10, in there, James Kirkland-Alfredo Angulo round 1, or any num­ber of other great moments.

Add to that list Dar­ren Barker ver­sus Daniel Geale. Con­tinue read­ing »

MLB: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox

The other day, GSL Edi­tor Anthony Malakian sent me a link to the below arti­cle, which ran on Yahoo! Sports. As an unabashed Red Sox fan, I was imme­di­ately fright­ened about its title. I knew I’d been busy with work lately, (same excuse I’m using for why I haven’t been con­tribut­ing to this site), but the last time I’d checked, Boston was in first place in the AL East, and had the best record in the Amer­i­can League. I quickly started read­ing to find out how they had fallen off so quickly.

One sen­tence in, I real­ized there was actu­ally noth­ing to worry about. This is just one of those really bad arti­cles that you wished firejoemorgan.com was still around to pick apart. It was too good to pass up, so while we all wait for @KenTremendous to leave his Emmy-winning TV show and come back to the world of free sports blog­ging, I’m going to attempt to fill the void.

The Boston Red Sox Have Hit Rock Bot­tom

By Andrew Luistro

How else can a loss to the Hous­ton Astros at this stage of the sea­son be explained? Con­tinue read­ing »

Jeff Luhnow

The trade dead­line has passed. The Astros Rebuild continues…but the end is fully in sight.

Tonight the Astros will send out start­ing pitcher Jarred Cosart. The 23 year old is cur­rently the team’s No. 7 prospect, accord­ing to MLB.com, and in his first three big league starts he’s 1–0 with a 0.86 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. At short­stop will be the team’s 11th best prospect, Jonathan Vil­lar. In 10 games Vil­lar has swiped five bases, includ­ing home against Bal­ti­more. Patrolling cen­ter­field will be recent addi­tion LJ Hoes, who has the best name in base­ball and who is the club’s 18th rated prospect.

Within the next month, Hous­ton is likely to call up No. 3 ranked George Springer, who has hit 29 home runs and stolen 36 bases in 106 games this year in the minors, while bat­ting .308 and with an OPS of 1.013. With how few vet­er­ans exist on this ros­ter, it’s very likely that sev­eral other top-tier prospects will make their MLB debuts this Sep­tem­ber, as well.

The rebuild has its foun­da­tion com­pletely built. Now to start grow­ing upward. Con­tinue read­ing »

Karass Belts Berto

It seemed to hap­pen overnight. Andre Berto was always a fun fighter—a kid with quick hands and a gen­eral will­ing­ness to stand in the pocket. But out of nowhere, he became a must-see attrac­tion.

On his way up the lad­der to grab the WBC wel­ter­weight strap, he would slowly but assuredly wear oppo­nents out with sniper-like coun­ters and blis­ter­ing com­bi­na­tions. He wouldn’t always get the knock­out and he would at times not try for the kill, but gen­er­ally, you always felt like you got some­thing close to your money’s worth of action and enter­tain­ment. Con­tinue read­ing »