Canelo Alvarez isn’t here to box, he’s here to win

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When I texted one of my good friends to ask what he thought of the match up between Canelo Alvarez and Miguel Cotto he told me that fight would hinge on the footwork of the two boxers. He said “Canelo has cinder blocks on his feet and has terrible movement.” He also said that if I were a betting man, which I am, that I should put my money on Cotto to pull the upset.

I went against his advice and I’m slightly richer for it.

My friend was right, though. It was clear from the opening bell that Cotto’s plan was to dance around his flat footed opponent all night. Cotto out boxed Alvarez for the entirety of the bout. If boxing was like figure skating and the judges were looking at the purity of the technique, Cotto wins all 12 rounds.

But boxing is mostly about inflicting damage. Those cinder blocks that were attached to Alvarez’s feet were apparently attached to his hands too because everything that he landed, landed hard. Cotto was looking real nice with his own quick combos but nothing he landed really seemed to phase Alvarez. Alvarez would get hit with a couple of hooks and jabs, shake it off, and get ready to come forward again. But Alvarez was landing those punches that make you reevaluate your life choices.  Cotto got hit with one of those uppercuts in the late rounds and you could see him thinking, “Damn, maybe I should go back to school and get my bachelor’s” When Cotto was eating punches in bunches during an intense exchange in the 8th round it looked like he was making retirement plans in his head like, “I wonder if HBO would hire me as analyst when my career is over. I speak better English than Roy Jones Jr anyway”

Alvarez had the overall advantage in percentage of punches landed but absolutely  dominated in the power punch category landing 40 percent while Cotto was only able to land 14 percent.  Numbers like that have me questioning the sanity of Freddie Roach.

The scary part about what we saw from Alvarez is that he doesn’t need to try to box with his opponents. He tried to box with Floyd Mayweather and Mayweather had him swing at air. (Except for that one time where he made really solid contact with the ropes.)

This version of Alvarez knew his limitations and stayed in his lane. He doesn’t have footwork. He just kinda walks towards you and looks to land hay makers like he did against James Kirkland.

The best part of that highlight is when the ref says “show me something,” to Kirkland and Kirkland gets slept and does his best impersonation of someone with narcolepsy.

The people who doubted Alvarez thought that a superior boxer would pick him apart. But when he’s making up for his lack of footwork with above average head movement, taking advantage of his 70.5  inch reach, and landing his power punches with accuracy like he did against Cotto, he’ll be damn near unbeatable.

He’s not overly technical and now he knows he doesn’t have to be. He’s like Rick Ross, he ain’t trippin’ on the technical parts of his style too much.  He’s just gonna make sure those hooks hit hard.

 

Kaepernick gets his chance to chill

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Its official. Colin Kaepernick is on vacation. He got demoted to back of quarterback just in time to really get turnt up for his birthday. He may be on the sidelines watching Blaine Gabbert while nursing a hang over. If you see him on the sidelines wearing sunglasses sipping Gatorade then you know what he did with his birthday weekend.

And he’d better enjoy the break while it lasts because as bad as things look for him now, he will be back by the end of the season.

The issue with Kaepernick isn’t one of physical talent. Ron Jaworski caught a lot of heat for his praise of Kaepernick but his analysis wasn’t completely baseless. We’ve seen the flashes of brilliance. We saw him bolt away from the entire Green Bay Packers defense like his name was Usain just two years ago. We saw him lead the team to three NFC championship games and a Superbowl. He’s got the tools to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He’s just forgotten how to use those tools and being knocked around by one of the worst o-lines in football isn’t gonna help him remember any time soon.

The general line of thinking is that if the 49ers are making a move like this, then the coaching staff and the front office must think that Blaine Gabbert is a better option to help this team win. Maybe this is me being a 49ers fan and giving the coaching staff too much credit, but they can’t possibly be that stupid. Its not possible that anybody even half way mentally competent looked at Option A that used to work and thought that the solution to the problem was to go with Option B that has never worked. Whats Gabbert about to do to show you that he deserves that job more than Kaepernick? While you think of possible answers to that question enjoy this Blaine Gabbert music video.

If you came up with an answer other than, “Gabbert isn’t an NFL caliber quarterback,” in those three minutes and 53 seconds  then there’s a good chance you’re related to him.

Whats actually happening here is that Kaepernick is getting a break. He’s a  badly beaten boxer who’s been given a standing 8 count. Gabbert is in a situation where the front office and the coaching staff has made his job to lose. And because he is Blaine Gabbert he will find a way to lose this job by doing typical Blaine Gabbert stuff. (The coolest of the Blaine Gabbert stuff obviously being that he cussed at Brian Cushing while running out of bounds.)

People are calling this the end of the Colin Kaepernick era and I can’t blame the sports columnists of the world for jumping to that conclusion. Robert Griffin III lost his job to Kirk Cousins in Washington and Jay Gruden is making every excuse to justify this choice. But the bias against Kap in San Francisco isn’t as strong as the bias against RGIII in Washington. All Cousins has to do is be white and not be Robert Griffin. Gabbert’s excepted to actually look like a legit starting quarterback. Since its impossible for him to pull that off we’ll see the bicep kissing QB back  by Christmas. Which will be just in time for that Kap to get off the stool and throw his punches at the end of the season, for better or worse.

The Suits and 40’s mixtape tour: NBA players and their rapper counterparts Part 4

 There’s always been an obvious connection between the NBA and the world of hip-hop. The music is played in the arenas, the players have it on in their headphones pre-game, and Lebron James is out here singing Fetty Wap off key on the sidelines.  After years of watching the NBA, and after years of wishing the And1 Mixtape Tour would come back to ESPN, I’ve noticed that there a lot of players in the NBA who actually remind me of some biggest names in hip-hop. Continue reading

Pat Haden can’t do both

Steve Sarkisian at a press conference introducing him as the new USC  head football coach at the John McKay Center at the University of Southern California on December 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Steve Sarkisian at a press conference introducing him as the new USC head football coach at the John McKay Center at the University of Southern California on December 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

What we have here is the latest example of, “you can’t do both”.

You can either have off the field issues or have on the field issues. Problems in one area can earn you a second chance. Problems with both will get you fired. Sarkisian was the head coach of a USC Trojans team that was supposed to contend for a national title but has since slipped out of the top 25 in the polls. If he’s sober with a 3-2 record he has a job. If he’s drunk with a 5-0 record, he has a job assuming he doesn’t make a fool of himself in public again. But being an alcoholic with a 3-2 record and a loss at home to Washington will cost you your job. You can’t do both.

But, if you listen to Pay Haden talk about the straw that broke the camels back he does a good job of pretending this is the first time he’s noticed Sarkians health problems. Seeing Haden give that press conference reminded me of all the times I pretended I didn’t get a bill in the mail. He really tried to sit there and act like he didn’t witness or hear of Sarkisian being intoxicated at any point since he hired him.

Either he’s not connected to his football program or he’s acting like the special guest referee at WWE match who didn’t just see that guy get hit with the steel chair. Haden even had a “zero tolerance policy” regarding Sarkisian and alcohol like the only thing keeping Sarkisian from kicking his addition was his boss saying not to drink. I can’t tell if this is him not understanding the nature of addiction or if he was just looking for a way to cover his own ass by saying the prevision was in his contract.

How much effort was required by Haden to act like he didn’t see he had a problem on his hands? Was it like back in the day when I knew I failed a test and didn’t look at the grade like the F didn’t count unless I saw it? How many times did coaches say something to him about Coach Sark not looking well?

“Hey, Pat I don’t think Sark is healthy right now. He seemed really out of it today at the team meeting.”

“Yeah, well there’s been a cold going around campus so be sure to wash your hands and sneeze into your elbow.”

“I don’t know, I’m concerned he may be drinking again.”

“Well, the atmosphere on campus on game day is so intense its impossible to not get excited and feel intoxicated.”

And I would also love to hear what Haden had to say the boosters who questioned him when he announced the hire of Sarkisian:

“ Come on guys, I know he’s had his issues but I know a good coaching talent when I see one. Its not like I had to fire the last guy I hired in the middle of a blow out game or anything.”

(You can’t hire Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian back to back like you’re on the cover of Lethal Weapon, back to back like your Jordan ’96, ’97.)

To be clear, the fact that Sarkisian was battling with issues in his persona life  and it went unaddressed for a number of years isn’t funny. But, I will not make any apologies for laughing at the level of denial that it must have taken to justify what was obviously the wrong choice in head coach. Haden made a move that was morally questionable and lost football games at the same damn time. He could have done either one of those things and not had people call for him to step down. But now,  USC’s title hopes are virtually non existent and he decided to put the kids in that program under the care of someone battling with deep seeded personal issues.

If Haden wants to keep his job, he can’t do both.

The Suits and 40’s mixtape tour: NBA players and their rapper counterparts Part 3

There’s always been an obvious connection between the NBA and the world of hip-hop. The music is played in the arenas, the players have it on in their headphones pre-game, and somewhere in Toronto Drake is waiting for someone to come shoot with him in the gym.  After years of watching the NBA, and after years of wishing the And1 Mixtape Tour would come back to ESPN, I’ve noticed that there a lot of players in the NBA who actually remind me of some biggest names in hip-hop.

Meek Mill and Mark Cuban

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Nobody took L’s this summer like these men did. The sad part about it is I had associated these men with winning. Mark Cuban is a billionaire who owns one of the more successful franchises in the NBA. I don’t know what Meek Mill’s worth is but he gets to wake up next to Nicki Minaj everyday so even if his album flops he still winning the game of life. The summer of 2015 was supposed to be a good one for these guys. Cuban was gonna build his team back into a championship contender by signing DeAndre Jordan and Meek was dropping an album that was gonna have a feature from Drake.

And then two of the most hilarious beefs of all time started.

DeAndre Jordan had a handshake agreement to sign with Dallas, but had to wait until the signing period actually started before he could make it official. Before I was even done cracking jokes about Jordan seeing himself as a staple in the offense in Dallas, he had changed his mind and decided he wanted to play with Chris Paul’s angry ass again. Why he wanted to play with Paul, who talks to him like an angry parent who busts in your room without knocking to yell at you for not picking up those damn clothes off the floor, I’m not sure. But whatever the reason, Cuban was pissed. Allegedly pissed enough to make the trip to Houston and try to roll up on Jordan’s house and send some thirsty ass text messages.

We’ve all sent thirsty ass texts and gotten no response. But hopefully none of you guys have ever sent thirsty texts and then tried to catch the person you were thirsty for at their house and then had your thirst reported on by the sports media. Also, Cuban’s lived in Dallas for more than a minute. Texas is a gun loving state. Why is he showing up unannounced when one of Jordan’s neighbors may just have the chopper on deck? He should have known better.

Meek Mill’s wounds were more self-inflicted. Look, we know Drake doesn’t write a lot of that stuff he be sayin. And a lot of ya’ll don’t seem to care.However, I still care, and apparently, so does Meek. Meek cared so much, that he was decided to take to Twitter just to let everybody know how disappointed he was in Drizzy.

I’m not gonna talk about “Charged Up” too much because that was one of the weakest disses I ever heard. Even when Drake mad at you it still sound like a love song. But when Drake came at him with “Back to Back”…it was over. “Back to Back” wasn’t just your average diss record though. It was a package deal. He turned a diss into a multimeida event complete with powerpoint on the over head projector.  Meanwhile both the diss tracks got higher on the Billboard list than any song off of Meek’s album and the highest ranking song of his album was “R.I.C.O..”which featured the verse that Drake hadn’t written.

I don’t normally give advice to celebrities but if Meek Mill or Mark Cuban are reading this you should give this blog a shout out. You should also both calm the fuck down. Every time I turn around Cuban’s getting fined for yelling at the referees. And Meek Mill needs to be fined yelling in general. Meek Mill rap like he know your headphones are shorting out and he wants to make sure you hear him clearly. As a matter of fact my favorite part of R.I.C.O is when he tells the listener to be quiet because the feds are watching when he was the one who just got through yelling for two minutes. Meek and Cuban also need to stop tripping on ghostwriters. People don’t care Drake isn’t a writer and no one cares if Jordan actually wrote his apology. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Quintin Miller wrote Jordan’s statement as soon as he recorded this reference track.

Flava Flave and Nick Young

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In the context of Public Enemy, Flava Flav was this weird combination of goofy and socially conscious. If you listen to Public Enemy you get 80 percent Chuck D being angry and righteous like someone gave Huey Newton some hot beats to rap over. The other 20 percent is some dude with a clock around his neck telling you that he never dials 911.Listening to that for an entire album could get pretty tiring, so you need Flav for the comic relief. But who out there is trying to hear the Flava Flav solo projects? As of writing this I haven’t looked at his Wikipedia page to check, but I don’t know what he’s done musically since 1994. And I refuse to check his Wikipedia page to see if he tried to drop an album while he was doing that bullshit reality show on VH1.

Anyone who who saw Flavor Flav’s scripted search for love witnessed what happens when he doesn’t have Chuck D to cancel out his goofiness. And in LA, no one can cancel out Swaggy P’s goofy ass either. Kobe keeps trying to come back to lay down the law but old Kobe doesn’t have the same knees as young Kobe. The other problem is, as previously noted, Kobe isn’t a Chuck D type. No one in the NBA is. There is no rebellious, righteous figure who will stand up to the white establishment that runs the NBA. Chris Paul comes close just because he’s the head of the player’s association but he still hasn’t fought the power of David Stern to repeal those oppressive dress code rules that Allen Iverson faught so hard against. Nick Young and Flavor Flav have two main goals in life: get into questionable relationships with foreign white women and to show out as much as possible while they’re performing. Sometimes that means not knowing when a shot is actually going in, other times that means not knowing how many mid air spins is too many. Either way it’s been established, that you cannot leave these guys alone without another authoritative figure around. Chuck D leaves the studio for one second and Flavor Flav gets on TV long enough for this shit to happen. And Kobe was just sittin at home watching Nick Young be bad enough to make sure the Lakers miss the playoffs and the first overall pick in the draft. This is what happens when there are no adults around to supervise.

Earl Sweatshirt and Anthony Davis

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These dudes must have sold their souls to the devil at some dusty crossroads in Mississippi to be so talented at such a young age. All they had to do was trade their good looks to be this good at their crafts before they were even old enough to drink. I’m not the kind of guy who likes to spend a whole lot of time focusing on how another man looks, but I’m still trying to figure out how Earl Sweatshirt looks old and young at the same time. He’s one of the most talented lyricists out right now and he looks like a middle-aged teenager. Anthony Davis is about to overtake LeBron as the best player in the NBA in a few years but his eyebrows have him looking like Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold. His eyebrows look like when children try to draw a picture with birds flying off in the distance.

If you put their awkward appearances aside though, it’s impossible to not recognize how good these guys are. I even heard that Davis was working on a three point shot in the offseason.  If he starts hitting that shot with any consistency, no one will be able to guard him. You’re gonna have to treat him like we treated Mike Vick in Madden 2004. You cant be playing 2K with the Pelicans when you have the player that can score from anywhere, gets rebounds and blocks shots. You gotta put Luke Babbit in there just to keep things fair. Davis signed that ridiculously fat contract and he’ll be worth every dollar of it. I just hope the good people of Kentucky have stopped connecting their eyebrows with permanent marker for a player who kicked it in that backward ass state just long enough to take advantage of that NBA conveyor belt John Calipari built.

And at this point Earl is just as ungaurdable in the booth when it comes to the dark clever word play. Its rappers like him that make me thankful for Rap Genius because some of these lines would have taken months for my dumb ass to decipher back in the day. And I would love to keep cracking jokes about how this man got bags under his eyes and how his hair lines is rolling back like Walmart prices but I need someone to explain to me how someone so young comes up with something this dark?

I know why Earl got bags under his eyes. If that’s what he sees when he goes to bed I wouldn’t want to sleep either. Thats the shit nightmares are made of. Personally I hope every girl who curved these guys in high school is in their DMs on Twitter sounding thisrty. And I hope this was the response:

Jay Electronica and Derrick Rose

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There are few things more painful than being supporters of Derrick Rose or Jay Electronica. You spend the majority of your time telling other basketball/hip hop fans to just wait. Just wait until he gets those samples to clear. Just wait until his knees fell 100 percent. Just wait until you hear the rest of the album. Just wait until the Bulls can get him on the floor for a full season. Waiting for Rose and Electronica to get their shit together is like driving at 2 a.m. and waiting for that flashing red light to turn green. You might as well just keep it moving.

I reserve the right to talk trash about these guys because I really like both of them. It’s impossible to not root for a guy like D-Rose. If you didn’t use the create-a-player function on NBA Live to put yourself on the roster of your favorite team then you’re a liar. Well, Rose is actually the star player on his hometown team. He also taught us a very valuable lesson about not listening to the team doctors. Ya’ll all jumped down his throat when he delayed his comeback from that MCL tear, but he refused to be rushed back. (And if you still think Rose was overly cautious for not playing when doctors cleared him, go ask John Wall and Kyrie Irving about how trustworthy the team medical staff is.)

On the other hand Jay Electronica has a sound that could seriously shake up the landscape if he wasn’t leaking one track off his long-awaited debut album once every 18 months. Even when’s sending his features on someone else’s record he’s late as fuck. The only reason I keep paying attention to this cat is that his leaks are fire. Jay Electronica has been torturing us for years by releasing one good track, hyping it up onw Twitter, then getting distracted from his music because he’s fucking some billionaire’s daughter. You’re better off hoping that Rose shows up to take his own SAT than expecting a concrete release date for Act II.

Don’t be surprised if you see Derrick Rose with an executive producer credit when the record drops. Because I’m pretty sure Rose rehabs in the same room Jay Electronica writes his rhyme. Every time he says he’s ready to release the album Rose rubs his knee and tells him to wait until he’s ready.

…Or his album release date could be getting delayed because he’s engaging in combat against Satan. You never know with this guy.

Bumgarner the Hitter

Madison Bumgarner is pulling off a feat that was more common towards the beginning of the live ball era: dominance on both sides of the plate. His batting line of .255/.281/.491 more closely resembles his center-fielder’s Angel Pagan (.258/.290/.308) than the other members of the starting rotation like Chris Heston (.227/.227/.273).

With this in mind, it is not a surprise that manager Bruce Bochy has begun to utilize the bat of Bumgarner just as much as he does his arm by playing him at pinch hitter. In an era where most of the starting pitchers today hit around 20 points shy of the Mendoza line, Bumgarner’s new role is making headlines. A managerial decision like this may have been no large news to baseball fans a century ago.

As the Society for American Baseball Research’s Bob Davids informs us that pitchers were some of the first players to be used as pinch hitters when the position was first allowed in 1891. Pitchers before the live ball era showed success in the spot to the extent that, the pinch hitter with the eleventh most hits of all time is a pitcher, Red Lucas.

What seems to be separating Bumgarner far above other starting pitchers who hit this season is his power. His .491 slugging percentage is at least 200 points above any starting pitcher not named Tyson Ross.

Given the context of history, where does Bumgarner’s current season performance at the plate rank among other pitchers historically? Or even some of his modern day peers? To get some insight use the interactive graphics below to see other pitchers with similar or better hitting stats along with their hitting relative to their WHIP or ERA. I hope Don Mattingly does not get a hold of this. 

Bumgarner v. Other Pitcher’s Hitting

 

Evil Messi is Here, and the World is Better Off for it

Leo Messi dealing with the existential crisis of turning to a life of evil.

Leo Messi dealing with the existential crisis of turning to a life of evil.

On Wednesday, Barcelona and Roma played a friendly, which Barcelona won 3-0. The European champs dominated the game, laying siege on the goal for 90 minutes behind another astounding performance from the team’s first-rate frontline. Leo Messi continued to be Leo Messi, Best Player in the World, by providing the key pass for Neymar’s opening goal before firing home a left-footed shot himself. However, it wasn’t Messi’s performance with the ball that garnered the attention. Instead, it was this exchange of ideas with Roma’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa that made the world give a damn about a friendly:

Now, usually we would all wonder what Yanga-Mbiwa did to make the sweet angel from Rosario so incensed. That’s just not like Leo Messi! He’s too quiet and humble on the pitch to do that unless somebody crossed a serious line! The ref saw it as such, and awarded BOTH players a yellow card for what could very well be a straight red for Messi. While we won’t know what was said between the two, we can’t just brush this off as Messi losing his cool. This is just the latest instance of Messi realizing his newest iteration: Evil Messi.

Evil Messi has been developing for about a year now. I first got worried about Leo when I saw the highlights from Barcelona’s 6-0 zerging of Getafe in April. Every player got in on the fun, with each stunning goal outdoing its predecessor. After I finished crying tears of satisfaction from such wondrous football, Messi’s appearance took me aback. As the camera zoomed in on a tight shot, I saw…is that a SLEEVE TATTOO?!

I was shocked. Messi, the little manchild who only cares about scoring goals and winning trophies, got a full sleeve? It broke my heart to see such a nice young man corrupted by the forces around him. But then I looked into it more, and found that Messi’s been sporting a few tattoos before this. However, the sleeve is his most public form of body art to date. While before he was fine with personal, anecdotal tattoos, now Messi was broadcasting his new look to the world. It was an adjustment for all of us, as Messi was no longer the innocent boy who only copped to playing Playstation at a party filled with models.

Messi’s spent a year training under the master, and now he’s ready to access deep, dark parts of himself that he swore he’d never tap. He’s got all the same skills as before. He’s the world’s finest dribbler, can still outrun just about anybody WITH the ball, has remarkable vision and the skill to make passes that only he can, and oh, yeah, he’s one of the best shooters and finishers to ever walk the earth. Take all of that, and add a taste for the embarrassing and you have a perhaps even scarier player. Well, scary for the guys defending him, at least. For the rest of us, it’s a joy to watch:

Leo Messi would normally be happy to just create some space from Boateng, and hammer a right-footed shot home. Evil Messi isn’t here for that. Evil Messi takes on Boateng, a 26-year-old considered athletic among a collection of world class athletes, and disconnects his legs from his nervous system. I’ve seen a lot of people fall in sports, and I’ve never seen someone fall like that. It’s just as funny seeing it the 86th time as it was the first. After making Boateng’s family disown him, Messi proceeds to chip with his weak foot over Manuel Neuer, the world’s finest goalkeeper. This was after getting the first goal on him near post from outside the box three minutes prior. Mind you, he pulled this skull-dragging on Pep Guardiola’s new team, with Messi’s old mentor incapable of any strategy to stop him. Who’s drinking a Coke now, motherfucker.

That game against Bayern won me over. I’m in full support of Messi’s dark side now. Where previously Messi would dribble past guys and score, it seemed more of the mind of “well, they were in the way, so I had to get past them to score a goal, which I wanted.” Now it’s, “Well, they’re in the way, and I’m getting this goal, but let’s see if I can make this jabroni question all the wrong decisions he’s made that led him to marking me at this very point in time.”

It’s a pleasure to watch, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. Will Messi spend a game trying to make a team score an own goal? Maybe he’ll bring a shiv to a match and shank somebody when they get out of line. Oh, man, Messi might just feed a certain Cristianinho some Lily of the Valley in the middle of the Pichichi race to make that Cristiano guy distracted. Everything is on the table at this point. All I know is, I need to go get some goddamn tattoos so I can do better at my job.