“Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.”
Donnie Nietes

It’s not hard to under­stand boxing’s dimin­ish­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the United States—it’s not on net­work TV; peo­ple are becom­ing increas­ingly sen­si­tive toward vio­lent sports; there are a mil­lion cham­pi­ons and weight classes; the best don’t always fight the best.

But per­haps most impor­tant is the fact that the heavy­weight divi­sion is a dump­ster fire of com­pletely dread­ful contenders…after the Klitschko’s, that is. And to that last point about the Ukrain­ian broth­ers, com­pound­ing the dis­in­ter­est in the US is the fact that the Amer­i­can tal­ent pool of heavy­weights has dema­te­ri­al­ized; cratered.

If there was a Mike Tyson-esque char­ac­ter, rest assured that HBO or Show­time would put their money behind that man and try to build him up. Hell, if there was a Michael Grant-esque fighter out there right now, TV execs in box­ing would look to make him seem like the next Joe Louis. There’s gold in ‘dem ‘der 220-plus-pound hills.

Heavy­weights have almost always made for good rat­ings, rat­ings lead to adver­tis­ing and adver­tis­ing means $$$. Even when the divi­sion has been weak—Patterson/Liston era, Holmes era, Tyson era—the money and audi­ence have been there. It used to be that you couldn’t have a major PPV with­out at least one big boy as part of the main or co-main event. Con­tinue read­ing »


When a fighter, wrestler or mixed mar­tial artist enters a bout with a truly awful strategy—a strat­egy that defies logic and one’s own abilities—it has to be asked whether or not he ever believed he could win.

In his match with Manny Pac­quiao, Chris Algieri entered the ring this past Sat­ur­day (Sun­day morn­ing, Macau, China time, which is where the fight took place) with a stun­ningly idi­otic game plan. Algieri and his trainer, Tim Lane, decided that the Long Islander was going to knock Manny Pac­quiao out cold (or make him quit, I’m not fully sure).

After all, they had seen Pac­quiao get drilled against Juan Manuel Mar­quez just 23 months ear­lier! Mar­quez (who entered that fourth meet­ing with Pac­quiao built like a brick shit­house) was never known as a huge puncher, but with one soul-shaking right cross he buried Pac­Man face-first into the can­vas.

So I guess that if Mar­quez could do it, so too could Algieri—you know, the same Algieri who is 30 years old and who entered the bout with a ledger of 20–0. Hell, Algieri had even stopped eight oppo­nents in his career. Sure, in his pre­vi­ous six fights he only had one TKO and that was against a dude with a record of 14–12…oh, and the fight was stopped because of an “eye injury”…but why couldn’t Algieri pull the prover­bial rab­bit out of the hat and end Pacquiao’s career with a hail­storm of punches…it’s plau­si­ble!!!

Bull­shit. Con­tinue read­ing »


There is noth­ing more excit­ing than a tremendously-talented, yet fatally-flawed fighter. Think Meldrick Tay­lor. Today you have Amir Khan or, a hair before, Rafael Mar­quez. Throw it back to Julian Jack­son. And you can even include the big guys, like Ken Nor­ton or Floyd Pat­ter­son. And there are numer­ous oth­ers that are well before my time.

When you have a man with either blis­ter­ing speed or dev­as­tat­ing power, you blend that skill with a pinch of a faulty chin, the result­ing prod­uct is a fire­cracker. These are the fight­ers that keep you on the edge of your seat. These are the fight­ers that—win or lose—you keep com­ing back to watch. They’re flawed cham­pi­ons and they’re worth the price of admis­sion.

That is the kind of boxer that Yuri­orkis Gam­boa should’ve been. That is the kind of boxer that Yuri­orkis Gam­boa still can be. But if his­tory is an accu­rate indi­ca­tor of the future, Gam­boa is likely to become a clichéd exam­ple of “what could have been”. Con­tinue read­ing »


It’s the mark of a book that’s prob­a­bly not worth buy­ing if you can learn every­thing there is to know about it by read­ing the table of con­tents. Before you plunk down $12 for the paper­back ver­sion of “He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Guide to Under­stand­ing Guys,” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuc­cillo, you might take a sec­ond to read the table of con­tents and won­der if that $12 might be bet­ter spent on new shoelaces or a teething ring or some­thing.

The table of con­tents reveals that the book has 18 chap­ters, the first 11 of which all begin with: “He’s just not that into you if …” and then: Con­tinue read­ing »

Tom Brady Hit

There’s really not much that can ever be extrap­o­lated from Week 1 of the NFL sea­son. Since the pre­sea­son is mainly a spar­ring ses­sion where starters don’t play the whole game and play­ers are mixed and matched on var­i­ous units, con­ti­nu­ity is never there when the real thing comes around in Sep­tem­ber.

As a fan of the New Eng­land Patri­ots, this is what I’m telling myself today. But the sec­ond half of yesterday’s game against the Miami Dol­phins was an absolute dump­ster fire. Even still, there are three rea­sons to think that this is not the first sign that the wheels are falling off. Con­tinue read­ing »

Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners

Every­thing just seems ter­ri­ble right now if you’re a fan of the Hous­ton Astros. A sea­son that started with such promise has rather impres­sively gone off the tracks at the Ball­park at Union Sta­tion.

As I sit here, I want to keep pos­i­tive, but after years of inep­ti­tude, just as things started to turn a cor­ner, a string of incom­pe­tence and unfor­tu­nate luck have absolutely crushed my faith.

But to set the stage, let’s start with the good.

After tak­ing some heat for send­ing right fielder George Springer back to Triple-A fol­low­ing spring train­ing, GM Jeff Luh­now quickly changed course and called the 24 year old up to the Bigs in mid-April. While he strikes out a ton and his aver­age has been Adam Dunn-esque, he’s also been crush­ing the ball with team-leading 20 homers through 78 games, an OPS+ of 123 and a WAR of 1.8.

That call-up was fol­lowed by the pro­mo­tion of first base­man Jon Sin­gle­ton. Through 40 games the 22 year old has strug­gled might­ily, but when he con­nects with a ball it’s usu­ally an absolute no-doubter to leave the park. He will learn and progress.

Speak­ing of learn­ing and pro­gress­ing, there’s our diminu­tive sec­ond base­man, Jose Altuve—the heart and soul of the team. At 24 and in his fourth sea­son, Altuve has rounded into full All-Star form. He leads the Amer­i­can League in aver­age (.336) and stolen bases (41), he leads the Majors in hits (136), and is pulling in a 3.4 WAR. Con­tinue read­ing »


I used to be just like you. You’re sit­ting there, watch­ing soc­cer, a player falls to the ground in a heap and is writhing in pain. OH THE HUMANITY! WHAT HAPPENED?!

What hap­pened was noth­ing. He was slightly clipped and now he’s act­ing like a land­mine went off right under­neath his feet. You yell at the TV. Tell the lit­tle bitch to get up. You then turn to the per­son next to you and say, “This is why Amer­i­cans hate soc­cer! They’re all a bunch of flop­pers!”

I got ya. It’s annoy­ing.

But then one day I was talk­ing with one of my friends, a Por­tuguese fel­low named Goncalo. He’s an ardent sup­porter of Ben­fica and there’s no one bet­ter to watch a soc­cer match with. Con­tinue read­ing »

Old Press Hat

This is going to be more of a com­men­tary on the state of sports jour­nal­ism, but I’m going to ram­ble from time to time. If you’ve read any of my pre­vi­ous posts, you’re likely used to this.

Any­way, I launched this site on Feb­ru­ary 11, 2010. Basi­cally, I wanted to cre­ate a blog where I could work on my writ­ing and I thought it would be fun to bring in fam­ily and friends so that they could have an out­let to dis­cuss their feel­ings on any­thing sports related. Up until Sep­tem­ber 2013, GSL writ­ers cov­ered most every sport under the sun, but there was more of a focus on box­ing and mixed mar­tial arts (MMA).

But after trash­ing Mar­i­ano Rivera’s going away party—yeah, I can be an ass—I decided to take a break. The great­est rea­son for the sab­bat­i­cal was because of the work­load at my day job, where I cover finance and tech­nol­ogy. The other ratio­nale was how dis­il­lu­sioned I’ve become with the state of col­umn writ­ing.

First, I think that there’s an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion that must be made between colum­nists and reporters. To be sure, many colum­nists are reporters, and there are reporters that are also colum­nists. But a col­umn and a reported arti­cle appear­ing out­side the opin­ion sec­tion are not the same thing. While that should become increas­ingly evi­dent in today’s envi­ron­ment of the “Hot Take”, sadly, the “Hot Take” feel of columns are start­ing to bleed into long­form jour­nal­ism. Con­tinue read­ing »

(l-r) my brother, me, Uncle Led and Matty

Of my imme­di­ate family—not count­ing nieces and nephews—I’m the only one who wasn’t born in either the Bronx or over­seas. No, I was raised in Eas­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, which is about an hour north of Philadel­phia, and I lived there for the first 12 years of my life.

My mom and dad both had thick Bronx accents—our fam­ily always joked that instead of say­ing thirty-three and a third, they said “dirty tree and a turd.” When they were at work, my babysit­ters were off-the-boat Ital­ian immi­grants with accents out of cen­tral cast­ing for a DeNiro mafia flick. My child­hood friends and neigh­bors were Penn­syl­va­ni­ans who stressed the hell out of the “O” in words like phone and pil­low.

Suf­fice it to say, my speech as a kid was pretty screwed up. (No lie, at one point I devel­oped a thick Ital­ian accent and when I would call my Aunt Bar­bara as a kid I’d ask, “Aunta Bar­bara, I come over you house now?”) As a result, I had to go to speech ther­apy classes to talk like a civ­i­lized Pennsylvanian…and then a few years later my fam­ily moved back to New York.

While my speech pat­terns were all over the place, one of the bright spots of mov­ing to “upstate” New York—to Carmel, an 90 min­utes north of the city—was that I was liv­ing in the town-over from my god­fa­ther, Uncle Led—I know, weird name, right?!

Liv­ing in Carmel, I got to spend so much more time with him. A few years in—I can’t remem­ber how old I was; I was def­i­nitely younger than 18, but prob­a­bly not by much—I was rid­ing in the car with my dad and my brother Joe. They were talk­ing about Uncle Led but, oddly, refer­ring to him as “Eddie” and “Big Ed.” I strained my ears; clearly they weren’t say­ing “Led­die” or “Big Led”—even though that’s a great name.

It was at this point that I real­ized that the man I always thought was “Uncle Led” was actu­ally “Uncle Ed,” and that my fam­ily had such heavy accents that the “L” and the “E” in Uncle rolled right into the “E” and “D” of Ed. Every­body broke down laugh­ing after I fessed up. When we called up Eddie and his won­der­ful wife—my Aunta Barbara—they all laughed riotously. And while I then knew that his name was Ed, he would always be known to me as Uncle Led. Even my mom and dad would call him Uncle Led from time to time for a laugh. Con­tinue read­ing »

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 »