Houston, we have a problem: Paulie’s plight illustrates boxing’s ills

We’ve been advocates of Paulie Malignaggi for over five years here, even interviewing him for the previous iteration of SportsAngle.com. He’s a likable kid, very funny and cocky, but prideful and devoted to his craft, with jabs as fast as his quips. 

Who knew he’d be such a strong voice in calling out what’s wrong with boxing?

Malignaggi fought Houston native Juan Diaz in Diaz’s own city last Saturday night, and essentially Paulie voices his concerns about the sport following his loss on Saturdayacknowledged before the fight that he was going to get a raw deal. Contractually forced to make a catch weight lower than he was used to and fight in a smaller ring that limited his greatest advantage, his speed and elusiveness, Malignaggi made no secret about the fact that he didn’t expect the opportunity to actually win the fight by decision. Essentially, the deck was stacked against him.

His one saving grace was a promise that the fight would be officiated fairly and that the judges would be a varied panel and not just hometown stooges. But as Malignaggi found when he got to Houston, the referee was the son of Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation official Dickie Cole, and the judges included biased Texan Gale Van Hoy, Oklahoman David Sutherland, and Raul Caiz Sr., who Malignaggi called “a gofer for Golden Boy and a guy who’s biased in favor of Mexican-American fighters.”

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Santana’s Final Destination demonstrates hard truth of pitching contracts

Johan Santana's elbow issues in Spring Training proved to be a harbinger Other sources – like Baseball Prospectus – have started to pick up on our idea of the Mets’ season being like a horror movie. Being that we are horror movie historians of sorts, we’ve specified the movie Final Destination as a direct parallel. And following with that theme, whatever demonic force has targeted the Mets claimed Johan Santana’s valuable left elbow and Oliver Perez’s somewhat less valuable right knee this week.

Sidebar: If there’s anyone out there who thought 150-year-old malcontent Gary Sheffield would outlast Santana, much less Wright, Beltran and Reyes, he or she should promptly begin playing the horses.

Regardless, neither Santana and Perez will pitch again this season, bringing to an end a series of injuries that veered into the land of the occult.

However, these two most recent maladies, particularly that of Santana, brings to attention a couple of shortcomings of the Mets’ organizational strategy.

  1. Pitchers are too risky to make big-money investments in.
  2. There is great monetary value in a successful scouting department and farm system.

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Words to live by: Why we love Pretty Boy Floyd

Floyd Mayweather apparently invented HBO 24/7... just ask him We’ve been strong advocates of Floyd Mayweather here for quite some time – we went to his demolition of DeMarcus Corley way back in 2004 – which isn’t really in our nature. We like fighters like Gatti, guys who are more substance than style.

But Pretty Boy Floyd has both. The man is a tremendous boxer who pays incredible attention to his craft. And you know what? Boxing needs, craves even, his attitude, his willingness to stir things up. As the sport is lapped by Ultimate Fighting and its ilk, Mayweather’s ability to make people tune in to either root for him or root for him to get his head knocked off is invaluable.

Floyd follows the money. And taking a year off was a smart marketing move. During that year,

24/7 premieres Saturday at 10:15 p.m. ET

he had several memorable feuds – of sorts – with WWE wrestler The Big Show, keeping him in the mainstream and the public eye. After a disappointing summer for boxing on many levels, featuring few memorable fights and several notable deaths, people are more than ready for Mayweather’s return, regardless of the fact that he’s facing Juan Manuel Marquez, a very talented fighter who people know virtually nothing about.

As usual, Mayweather has taken up the promotion of the fight himself. HBO’s fantastic 24/7

series – which Floyd actually claims he invented somehow, though I think the word he’s looking for is pioneered – is set to premiere on Saturday, and the preview HBO showed during Boxing After Dark this week featured Floyd at his finest (and funniest):


I personally don’t think fighters say anything [about their opponents] because if they lose, people won’t be so harsh on them.

Me? I’m like, ‘F*ck it.’ It is what it is. You coming to get me, come and get me. It ain’t gonna be easy, baby, but you know it. It ain’t gonna be easy.

You have to admire his confidence, even if you bristle at his cockiness. The thing is, until someone actually beats Mayweather – and make no mistake, attempting to hit him is like trying to catch a firefly in your hand – he has carte blanche to say whatever he wants, and even his detractors have to admit that he’s backed it up every single time.

Mayweather destroyed Hatton and clearly outclassed the great De La Hoya. I don’t think Marquez has what it takes to beat him, and it’s a good thing. Boxing desperately needs Pretty Boy Floyd to have something to talk about.

Nets’ new marketing campaign reaches new levels of defeatism

I’ve seen some bad sports marketing campaigns in my day – this one comes to mind – but the New Jersey Nets may have just taken the cake. As you may have heard, fresh off taking the “New Jersey” off their jerseys, which didn’t win them points with this proud Garden State resident, the Nets are now telling their fans to root for players on other teams by giving out double-sided jerseys with star opponents on them.nets480

Look, I understand the majority of people who go to Nets games are going to see other teams’ star players, since the Nets don’t really have any of their own since trading Vince Carter. I mean, I love Devin Harris, but he’s not going to be an enormous box-office draw.

So in theory, the campaign makes sense. And I realize that the Nets are desperate for money in a tough economy. I get all that.

But I just feel like it’s something you just can’t do to your players. You can promote coming to a game against the Cavs to see LeBron James, you’d be stupid not to, but to actually push merchandise of other teams? I hate the principle of the Nets’ players looking out into the stands and seeing a sea of Kobe Bryant jerseys.

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Signing of The Savior a huge step in the right direction for Nationals

The Savior was 13–1 with a 1.32 ERA for San Diego State this year

The Nationals were one minute and 17 seconds away from disaster on signing deadline night. But right before the witching hour, they signed Stephen Strasburg, who we’re going to dub “The Savior” around these parts.  

And you know what? Suddenly, the prospects for one of the biggest laughing-stock franchises in sports aren’t looking that bad anymore. And it all starts with Strasburg. I haven’t seen much of him, but from what I have seen during the Olympics and his senior year at San Diego State, he has a nasty hook and has a 100-mph burner.

Not only that, but Strasburg has the It Factor. He’s not the household name that a LeBron or Sid the Kid is – he logically should be, which warrants future investigation of baseball’s marketing tendencies on this site, so keep your eyes peeled – but fans of the sport know exactly who he is.

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Final Destination? Fate – with assist from WBC — has it in for the Mets

(Clockwise from top right) Delgado, Maine, Perez, Wright, Putz, Niese, Beltran and Reyes have all fallen victim to various maladies

Never have I seen a team as cursed as this year’s Mets. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve brought it on themselves in certain ways, and GM Omar Minaya’s press conference where he called out a reporter will go down as one of the most notorious moments in New York sports history.

But it’s simply incredible to see a team completely decimated this way by injuries. It’s sad to see during the first season at a new stadium. They’re resembling the early-90’s version of this team in terms of the product they put on the field, but those teams weren’t ravaged by injuries as much as what we see here.

It’s almost like the movie Final Destination, where some sort of bad karma is picking off the Mets one by one. I’m not quite sure what they did to deserve this – Minaya’s conference came after the majority of these injuries – but God help me if I ever do the same.

To recap the grim details, here are the various appendages that have malfunctioned:

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Eagles become Vick-tims of their own impulse move

I’m not one of those types that thinks Michael Vick should have been barred for life from playing football. But that said, I can’t envision his joining the Eagles actually working out.

To get this out of the way, I don’t condone forcing animals to fight, much less killing them. I honestly think Vick is despicable. But the guy was Vick: Formerly the most electrifying player in the gamesentenced for his crime, he served his time and he’s out. If someone is willing to take him on, I have little problem with him joining a team, and that’s despite the fact that I doubt Vick has any contrition. If he didn’t think fighting dogs was wrong before he got caught, I’d say the only thing he’s sorry about is that he got caught.

But what is the best case scenario here? What is Vick going to do in Philadelphia to make it worth taking on the scrutiny of actually having him?

I can understand why Vick would think this is the best situation. You know the drill: strong management team, solid coach in Andy Reid, established quarterback – all of which takes pressure off Vick. In addition, he has one of the most stable men in the history of the NFL in Tony Dungy as a mentor to keep him on the straight and narrow.

I know what Vick gets out of this. But what do the Eagles get?

First off, they get an angry quarterback. Sure, Donovan McNabb said the right things about encouraging the Eagles to sign Vick. What is he supposed to say? Privately, he hates it. McNabb has an enormous ego and a ton of pride. He wants to be The Man.

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Weekend roundup: Money in the Bank, UFC’s Forest of Fear, Incubus

It was an eventful weekend for SportsAngle’s Esoteric and Epstein, who headed south down the GSP – not Georges St. Pierre, the Garden State Parkway – for a birthday celebration. (I won’t say how many years, but it’s rounder than I’d like) The highlight of the trip was a visit to Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night for the Phillies-Marlins game with Cole Hamels on the hill.

PHILADELPHIA – Though I’ve long heard its virtues extolled, I didn’t want to like Citizens Bank – mainly because I don’t like the Phillies – but at the end of my first trip to the park, I couldn’t help but admit that it’s a great place to take in a ballgame.

A big reason the park is such a success is that the atmosphere is fantastic. It makes an enormous difference that the Phillies won the World Series last year and look to be a strong contender again this year – fans gravitate to winners. The guest services booth told me the game was a sellout, as most games have been since May, and it creates a special environment when the seats are completely filled.

Mets fans probably won’t like to hear this, but though Citi Field was an attempt to mimic the vibe of Citizens Bank, the Mets’ lack of success and inability to develop stars have left them far behind their neighbors to the south. Even when Reyes, Delgado and Beltran are healthy, they simply don’t generate the trust that Utley, Howard, Rollins, Victorino, Werth and Ibanez do.

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Fantasy Football Fallout… Picks #41 – #45

Triple F is back again to dissect CBS Sportsline’s Top 50. For the most part, I don’t follow these fantasy football lists as gospel; I just use them as a resource. But for you, Mr. Joe Fantasy; you should read my words as the truth. To add to my annoyance, Sportsline keeps changing their top 50 order, so their rankings may be out-of-date. No worries tho, my analysis is spot-on.

Without any further adieu, here is my deconstruction of picks #45 through #41.

#45 – Chad Ochocinco
Let me get this out of the way… I like Chad Johnson. I don’t like Chad Ochocinco. Chad Johnson was an extremely promising wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. Chad Ochocinco is an undisciplined nutjob who also plays wide receiver for the Bengals. The 2008 Bengals were remarkable in their ineptitude (I can’t believe that Marvin Lewis Lights... camera... bizarre name changeis employed). Supposedly, Palmer is 100%; but what about the rest of the offense? The lead RB is Cedric Benson. The WR2 is Levaranues Coles (a step down from TJ). So what does that mean for #85? A make or break season. He posted six straight seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards, but his 2008 campaign was riddled with diva drama. He spent the offseason demanding a new contract or trade. He changed his name. He injured his ankle and shoulder. He badmouthed his teammates. He claimed that he wasn’t physically prepared for the season. Do you notice a pattern? Chad’s all talk. While I have no doubt he’ll surpass 1,000 receiving yards if he plays at least 13 games; I doubt his commitment to the game. Don’t reach for Chad. Let him fall to you

Conclusion: He needs to redeem himself. There’s upside, but don’t reach for it.

Receiving: 80 receptions. 1,200 receiving yards. 7 TDs.

*** BUY ***

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Farewell to a (fantasy) football god: Drew Bennett era draws to an end

The zenith of Drew Bennett's dominance -- 42-yarder vs. the Chiefs on MNF

You might have missed this last week, but right after signing with the Baltimore Ravens, Drew Bennett decided to retire. Now, this caused nary a ripple in the actual football world. But in the fantasy football world, well, this was the equivalent of Jerry Rice hanging up the cleats.

At least for some of us. That is, those of us who somehow drafted or picked up Mr. Bennett during his miraculous 2004 season. Because for a three-week period in December, Drew Bennett – a former college quarterback – was the greatest receiver alive.

He was Jerry Rice, Steve Largent and Irving Fryar all rolled up into one. He had the combined power of Duper and Clayton. The NFL’s arms were too short to box with Drew Bennett.

To put it bluntly, Drew Bennett was stupid dope.

Three weeks. 28 receptions. 517 yards. Eight touchdowns.

The most amazing thing is when he started up his run, Drew was either on a bench, or on the waiver wire. And this guy decided virtually every fantasy league in 2004, he and Billy Volek. Tom Brady? LaDainian Tomlinson? Marvin Harrison? You could have all three of them – go ahead, take ‘em – and you wouldn’t stand a chance next to the Volek-Bennett express, son.

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