“De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7” might be the most ingenious reality series ever produced. Imagine When We Were Kings in real time and with more twists and turns, a high-stakes version of The Contender, and a Shakespearean drama with equal elements of tragedy, history and comedy all rolled into one. The stakes couldn’t be higher or more historically significant. The stars couldn’t have been better cast for their roles. They are a true study in contrasts in everything from fighting to lifestyle. De La Hoya is the very quintessence of mainstream enterprise, American values, and the brighter side of the American dream. From his good looks to his polished mannerisms to his stable home life, De La Hoya sparkles as a perfect 21st Century stand-in for the Great White Hope. Meanwhile, his opponent, Mayweather, comes off as the latest in the long line of irascible, unpredictable balls of contradiction that have defined great black fighters dating back to Jack Johnson. He is a disciplined fighter with unmatched work ethic, and yet he is also a grotesquely puerile, vain, and gaudy young man. You genuinely want to root for him because he is a great fighter with a good heart, but then you can’t help but think his overblown ego could use a check. Even then, though, once you see where he came from, who raised him and how much of his childhood was taken from him for this thing called boxing, you see him as a child reliving the youth he never had, and you find yourself sympathizing with him all over again. Add into this already confusing mix, the father-son-uncle drama swirling around the Mayweather camp, and you start to ask yourself, is this for real? Am I really watching this insanity unfold before my eyes? It is, though, and you are.
Archive for April, 2007
“I’m 28 now. I shouldn’t miss a free throw down the stretch, but it happens. We’re all human. If we were all machines, it would be boring. Emotions play a factor in a big game like that.”
“I think anyone who says they don’t get tense is lying,” Nowitzki said. “In big games, you’ve just got to find ways to stay loose and relaxed. I’ve been doing a decent job of not letting the pressure get to me and still enjoying the moment.
“I love to have the ball at the end of games. That’s what it’s all about, that your teammates trust you and you have confidence in yourself that you can get it done. It’s a great situation to be in.”
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
– Michael Jordan
The Sixth Man: SML will on occasion sub-in for one of the starting five, give them a quick breather.
The big sports story today is the NFL draft. This is good fortune for MLB, as the story here in New York is that a former Mets employee, one Kirk “Murdoch” Radomski, pleaded guilty to distributing steroids to former (and maybe current?) major leaguers. Radomski didn’t have a big role with the team – he worked his way up from batboy to laundry guy – but he may become the center of the biggest story in baseball this season. Or he may just fade away, since he apparently has no connection to Barry Bonds….
From the released court documents:
Beginning in approximately 1995 and continuing through until December 14, 2005 when a search warrant was executed at my residence, I distributed anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, including Human Growth Hormone and Clenbuterol, asas well as amphetamines, to dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players (on teams spread throughout Major League Baseball) and associates. I deposited the payments for those anabolic steroids into my personal bank account and I then used the proceeds to finance my residence, which was the base of operation, warehouse, and communication center for my anabolic steroid-dealing business.
I don’t want to speculate on who he might have been distributing steroids to, but one name that instantly popped into my mind that I’ve always suspected of steroid use is Lenny Dykstra. I could continue to speculate, but the larger point is this: Will the press put the effort into finding the names, doing the leg work, and attempting to incriminate athletes like they did with Barry Bonds? Who is going to go Games of Shadows on this story? Or is it not worth the effort when Barry Bonds is not involved?…
I’ve done many interviews and not many have touched me emotionally like this one has. I honestly could feel myself welling up as Patrick described what he’s been going through with the recent death of his brother Detris. I thought deeply about this interview long after because Patrick and I connected through our similar experiences. I shared with him how the death of my mother has affected me over the years to try to give him some perspective on what life is truly like when you lose someone dear. Detris himself was a great 218 pound linebacker prospect who lost his life when his body cramped up while swimming in a local quarry. Patrick is a great kid. He’s a smart kid. He’s a humble kid that has been through it all and is much more wise as a result. Don’t get it twisted, he will be one of the best. He’s set his sights early on the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is deeply focused. Patrick is a ferocious hitter that will terrorize offensive schemes for years to come. Here’s an interview from earlier in the college football season.
PW: I’m silent. I don’t go out there and talk trash. I let my play do the talking. My range is really what gives me the edge over a lot of players.
MT: What drives you?
PW: I really couldn’t say one thing. There are so many things in my life that have shaped who I am. If I just thought of one thing, I’d be leaving out so much.
MT: I heard that. Honest answer. Try to focus on one.
PW: I want to be the best. I will never settle for average or one of the best. To be the best, you have to do anything and everything to become the best. I will be the best.
I confess I am intrigued by sockgate. On it’s own, it’s a non-story. I find it implausible that Schilling would deliberatly put paint on his sock, as if the drama of his pitching at all in Game Six in 2004 couldn’t stand on its own. Of course, we live in a media culture that has been thoroughly pro-wrestlingified: from introductory graphics, to constant background music, to staged attitude, it seems as though media organizations simply do not trust that the story itself is ever enough to hold the audience’s attention: that everything, no matter how inherently dramatic or compelling, must be produced, stage-managed. As in all else, so too in sports coverage hyped and over-dramatization are the rule, not the exception. It’s in that environment that one could actually entertain the possibility that Schilling’s dramatic Game six performance against the Yankees in 2004 would need a little extra juice, a little kick.
So, that’s one part of the story that I find worthy of chewing on. The other part of the story that is noteworthy is Schilling’s own role in fanning its flames. Lots of celebs, including pro athletes, have their own blogs. But, for someone interested in sports media, what’s distinctive about Schilling’s blog is that it is framed, in part, as an explicit antidote to the failings of sports media. In his criticism of Shaughnessy for his various misrepresentations, and Murray Chass, for being out-of-date in his understanding of baseball statistics, Schilling’s blog has sent the message that he’s writing, in part, because the sports media has failed to do its job.
I have to personally apologize for the delay of part three. I simply have no excuse so I won’t cowardly use one. This conversation is more of a precusor for an interview DWil and I conducted with Scoop Jax that will be posted Monday entitled Vantage Point.
Read the first part one of Jemele’s interview again and notice that Jemele was the first to alert the sports world regarding Don Imus’ now infamous comments. We also discuss her knighting 24 as a better player than 23. That column sparked a mini controversy that she backs up her very eloquently here. Jemele is simply a journalistic force–not in a couple of years–but right now. Open your perspective to change and I assure you, it will be duly noted. She will be a voice of dissent in a white male dominated field that desperately needs adaptation. She’s not a female kicker, but a strong armed quarterback with the keys to an entire gender.
Could you handle the scrutiny?
The Division 1 Board of Directors voted 13-3 yesterday to place a moratorium on text messaging as a recruiting tactic. It will go into effect on August 1st. Personally, I prefer the term “moratorium” to “ban” because in all likelihood the issue isn’t dead, only muzzled, for now. Though less stringent proposals had been on the table – strict 4pm-8pm time limits on school days and 8am-8pm limits on weekends– the board voted to get rid of text messaging all together in large part because “student athletes expressed some problems” over the number and frequency of the messages they were receiving from college recruiters. One unnamed recruit told of receiving 52 texts while he was sleeping. A barrage of calls by a Penn State defensive coordinator prompted one aggravated kid to say to him, ‘Why are you calling me? You’re not my girlfriend. I’ll see you at practice.’