Week of August 18, 2017

That’s almost 90 mph.

Is Floyd Mayweather Going to Take a Dive?

Next week, Floyd Mayweather, the best boxer of his generation, is going to come out of a 2-year retirement and “risk” his 49-0 career record against Connor McGregor, an MMA fighter who has never boxed professionally in his entire life. When this first was rumored months ago, I shook my head at the obvious cash-grab publicity stunt. I vowed not to order the fight, and ignored the story for months.

And then over the last couple weeks, my curiosity got to me. After all, the best part of a big boxing match is the spectacle – and this would surely be a spectacle. McGregor is a better self-promoter than Mayweather. Mayweather is loud and brash and braggadocious, but if you look closely, you can get the sense he doesn’t believe what he’s saying (indeed, Mayweather did not always demonstrate the Money Mayweather persona). McGregor, on the other hand, strikes me as a truly deluded meathead who believes every dumb word that comes out of his mouth.

Now that the table is set, we can eat. When the fight was first announced, I figured both guys just saw it as a nice pay day. McGregor has never made a fortune, because the UFC controls fighter pay. Mayweather has made hundreds of millions, but he’s not very good with his money. He even owes a very large tax bill to the IRS. But then I read this interesting article by a former fight promoter, Charles Farrell, with a seemingly thrown-away line that put a bug in my ear:

If [Mayweather] didn’t care about the legacy he single-handedly constructed (and, as a brilliant con man playing out the string at the end of a long, long con, he shouldn’t care), his final stroke of genius would have been to bet against himself at the beginning of the odds cycle during the very brief time they were 225-1—before jackpot hunters and McGregor hysteria brought the line closer—and then lose the fight in a freakish manner that didn’t hurt his reputation or foreclose the possibility of a redemptive rematch and would allow him to walk away with an additional hundred million dollars or more.

That would be the ultimate fuck you. I don’t think Mayweather is smart enough or secure enough to pull it off.

I just kept thinking about this and thinking about this. Would Floyd do this? Would he risk his perfect record? And then I started to piece some things together, like the director of Loose Change. Consider:

Right after the fight was announced, each fighter released a training video. Here they are, side-by-side:

Mayweather, though 40, looks as sharp as ever. McGregor, who again is not a boxer, looks like dog crap. He’s slow, rather uncoordinated, and looks like the amateur boxer he is. So, why would McGregor release this video? At first I thought, maybe this idiot doesn’t realize how bad he looks? Then I wondered if he wanted Mayweather to see it and not take him seriously? But after I read that passage above about Mayweather taking a dive, I got to thinking: Mayweather opened a -2,500 favorite (meaning you’d have to bet $2,500 on Mayweather to win in order to profit just $100), and Gregor opened at +1100 (meaning a bet of $100 would net you $1,100 if McGregor wins). So, what if they coordinated this video release to try to get the betting public to put money on Mayweather, and thus drive the odds on McGregor higher still? Ok, the evidence is weak so far, but let’s keep going.

Mayweather retired at 49-0, equaling Rocky Marciano’s record for most wins in an undefeated career. This fight would make it 50. Farrell thinks Mayweather will not risk that legacy. But, Mayweather is not as dumb as some think. What if, after he retired, he realized no one cared about 49-0? While generally considered the best of this generation, no one seriously ranks Floyd in even the Top 10 fighters of all time. Maybe Floyd, facing financial troubles, decided his legacy was worthless, and why not make his $100M on this fight, and also bet a huge amount of money on McGregor to win. At the opening odds, Mayweather could bet $10M on McGregor and net himself another $110M. Plus, if he loses, a rematch would be likely, where he could make another $100M. This is all still speculative. Is there anything more concrete I can point to that suggests the fix is in? I’m glad you asked.

Floyd has had a long history of hand problems. It’s one of the reasons his fights got so boring as he aged. He’s a defensive wizard, yes. But he was at one time a knockout artist, too. 13 of his first 15 fights ended in knockout. 19 of his first 27 did, too. After that, only 6 of his last 22 fights ended in knockout, the rest going to decision. Not surprisingly, around that time is when his hand issues began. In his 26th fight, he suffered his first career “knockdown” when Floyd punched his opponent and felt so much pain in his hand that he dropped his hand to the ground. He was never really the same fighter. Late-career Floyd embarrassed opponents with his footwork, quicks, and smarts. But he did not destroy them, and rarely even put them in trouble. It was like watching a boxing clinic, not a war.

What’s this have to do with Floyd throwing the fight? Well, about a month ago Floyd’s dad was interviewed. His dad has been part of the hype machine for this fight, saying Floyd is gonna “whoop [McGregor’s] ass.” But in this interview, Floyd, Sr. let it slip that he doesn’t think his son can knock McGregor out because Floyd, “has something wrong with his hands.” This is not really news to anyone following Floyd’s career, except for the fact that after a two-year break, the hands are still a problem.

And this is where things get inexplicable. In boxing, fights in Nevada at 147-pounds and above (this fight will be at 154-pounds) must use 10-ounce gloves. This is to protect the fighters. But last week, both McGregor and Mayweather petitioned Nevada boxing authorities to allow them to use 8-ounce gloves. McGregor is known as a strong puncher in MMA, and MMA fighters use 4-ounce gloves. His preference for lighter gloves makes sense. But for Floyd? Who is not a strong puncher, has a history and reportedly lingering hand injuries? Why on Earth would Floyd Mayweather want smaller gloves? He wore 10-ounce gloves in his matches against Oscar de la Hoya, Miguel Cotto, and Canelo Alvarez (he did wear 8-ounce gloves in his rematch against Marcos Maidana, but that was a peculiar case where Mayweather was risking both his 147 and 154 pound titles, and both fighters were required to make the 147-pound weight).

Surprisingly, on August 17, the Nevada State Athletic Commission agreed to a one-time exception. They will use the smaller gloves. I can’t shake the feeling Floyd is trying to set up a situation where he loses, has an excuse for it, and sets up a rematch. As I said at the outset, if he bets against himself and sets up a rematch, he stands to make an enormous profit. If he simply wins, he won’t be set for life, after paying his outstanding tax bill, plus the taxes on this purse.

Charles Farrell doesn’t think Floyd is smart enough or secure enough to do it. But considering all I’ve outlined, it makes ya think, doesn’t it?

Source: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Vs. Conor McGregor Is The Second-Biggest Possible Fuck-You”, Charles Farrell, Deadspin (07/28/2017)

PAL: The 0 in Floyd’s 49-0 record is what makes him culturally relevant. Everything about his brand, aura, mystique is contained within that zero. I would argue it’s priceless to Mayweather.

While I understand you’re pulling the 10MM number out of thin air, it leads me to questions. When someone makes a $10MM bet, word gets out. I mean, that seems like a massive number. Even if Mayweather passed out the money to a handful of people to make the bet for him, there would be buzz, right? Also, he’s at claiming he doesn’t have the cash on hand to pay his taxes (he’s asked the IRS to give him until after the fight to pay the taxes), but he’d put the money up on a fixed bet. Never mind the legacy – does he have the cash to pull this off. If not, who would bankroll it? This seems like a plan you’d want as few people as possible to know about. I wouldn’t be borrowing money to throw a fight. 

Yes, the largest best is a $880,000 (I haven’t seen $888K). The Maloof brothers — former owners of the Sacramento Kings — put it down as a PR play for a charity. I know this because the bet was big enough to attract national press. One of the Maloof brothers was on Dan Patrick’s radio show on Wednesday. Again, it seems like a PR move on their part, but a bet for less than $1M attracted a lot of attention. Just saying.

Hey, if you’re right, then this would be a great call. Almost as great as my Patriots comeback call in the Super Bowl. I should’ve put my money where my mouth was, and maybe you should, too, TOB.

TOB: As you note, I pulled the $10M figure out of thin air. But it’s not far-fetched. Of course he can’t place personally place a bet against himself, and of course he can’t have someone make a $10M bet all at once. As you said, the largest bet taken by a casino is $880,000 (on Mayweather). But if Mayweather gives 10 of his buddies $1M each, and they made bets at various casinos, they could easily dispose of the $1M each rather quickly. Of course, there are always mob-types to arrange this, too. It’s boxing, and it’s Vegas.

As for the 49-0 – this was my thought, too. But my argument here is that, after two years, he realized 49-0 doesn’t matter as much as he thought it would. I am so angry at myself for thinking this, let alone typing it, but I can’t wait to see what happens.


Trick Play Freezes Time

Every high school baseball team has a trick play. They are fun, choreographed, off-the-wall, sometimes outright rule-breaking plays that rarely work.

There’s the one where the pitcher fakes the pickoff throw, and everyone on defense acts as if he has thrown the ball into the outfield:

There’s the old hidden ball trick:

There’s the straight fake throw from a catcher

And there’s the old third-to-first:

There’s also the rumored “skip third” play where a baserunner simply cuts the corner at third base and advances home. This only works if there are two inattentive umpires calling a game. I’ve never seen it and I can’t even find evidence of it on YouTube.

There are a lot of trick plays, but I’ve never heard one as creative and bizarre as the one at the center of the this story.

For one, the ‘Skunk in the outfield’ play lasts over two minutes and thirty seconds. That is an absolute eternity for a baseball play to be live.

Second, it  exposes a rule I never knew existed. “In the rulebook, the baseline is not — contrary to what most people think — the line between two bases. Rather, it’s a straight line between wherever the runner is and the base he’s going for when a tag is attempted.”

Third – and perhaps most ingenious – is The Skunk Play is sheer absurdity. It depends on the defense reacting to something it’s likely never seen before.

So, with runners on first and third here’s how it works:

Did the play work? You’ll have to read the story to find out. Sam Miller clearly had fun writing this story, and it’s one of the most enjoyable reads so far this year. – PAL

Source: “Skunk in the outfield”: How the most epic trick play in history broke baseball, Sam Miller, ESPN (08/17/2017)

TOB: Great read. I love this play. [PAL: SPOILER ALERT. TOB indicates the outcome of the play in the next sentence.] Hats off to the pitcher, though, who defensed it perfectly. When it began, he didn’t balk or panic, which is what the play is designed to get him to do. That’s a ball player!

Respect The Game!

Good: Funny choreographed handshakes amongst adult teammates.

Bad: Handshake between teams.

Why don’t MLB teams shakes hands after a series? Be it the formality of the NHL playoff series or the more informal gathering at the center of an NFL football field or NBA court – the tradition holds true in other major sports. Why not baseball? ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield breaks it down in his column and gives us a tease that a handshake might be coming to an MLB game real soon.

We’ll get to that in a second. Why no handshake?

Baseball teams play almost every day for 7-8 months out of the year. Unlike other sports, the regular season is broken up into either a three or four game series. A handshake after every game would be a bit much. I get that, but I didn’t know that there’s actually an MLB rule that prohibits it: “Rule 4.06, which has been on the MLB books since at least 1950 and dictates that ‘players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.'”

Schoenfield points out that the rule does nothing to stop opposing players for shooting the bull during batting practice or the lovefest that ensues when a first basemen and a baserunner laugh it up during the game, but it’s interesting the the rule exists in the first place.

For a game that loves to use the argument of “respect the game” more than perhaps any other sport, it seems incongruous that a handshake doesn’t take place after the last game of a series or at the very least when a playoff series ends.

This all might change, for one night at least, in Williamsport, PA.

On Sunday evening, Matheny and the Cardinals will face the Pirates in the inaugural MLB Little League Classic. The game, which takes place right smack dab in the middle of the Little League World Series, will be played at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The pint-sized park has about 2,500 seats, nearly all of which will be occupied by Little Leaguers and their coaches and families. Translation? If ever there were a time to green light Operation Handshake, this would seem to be it.

First of all, how cool is it that an official MLB game – in August – is being played at a 2,500 seat park, in Williamsport, during the Little League World Series? Is this being promoted? This is the first time I’ve heard about it. MLB should be shouting about this as its answer to the NHL Winter Classic. I would love to go to this game, and if they do it next year, TOB, we got to go.

Second, this is absolutely the setting for an MLB handshake. Little League preaches about sportsmanship like it’s gospel. It feels like the announcers have to mention it a minimum of once every inning. Let’s see the idols live by the same expectations we preach to the kids. I dig it. The only thing that would be better is if an MLB player bawled after this game like a 12 year-old who just lost at the Little League World Series. If it would ever happen, it would probably will be a player from the Cardinals. – PAL

Source: “Forgotten lessons from Little League: Why don’t MLB players shake hands after games?”, Dave Schoenfield, ESPN (08/15/2017)

TOB: Yadier.


The Taste of Revenge is Salty

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ Phil Kessel is a supremely talented athlete. He doesn’t have the appearance of one, despite being one of the fastest skaters (if not the fastest) and a big time goal-scorer in the NHL. All the more reason to like him, right? Especially considering he has back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Before Pittsburgh, he was run out of Toronto. In fact, Toronto will be paying over $1M of Kessel’s salary for the next eight years for him to not play for the Leafs. It got bad between him, the fans, and the media – I’m sure Kessel’s to blame for some of it – but on his way out one columnist tried to give him a kick in the ass. Per, Steve Simmons:

“The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John Sts. just lost his most reliable customer. Almost every afternoon at 2:30 p.m., often wearing a toque, Phil Kessel would wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack.”

Kessel neither lived nor worked near Front and John Street. Although the rumor was more or less dismissed, Toronto fans looked at his chubby face and bad attitude, and the hot dog story stuck.

Kessel hasn’t forgotten either:

I think that’s what Duane Kuiper calls “ownage”. – PAL

Source: Phil Kessel Ate Hot Dogs Out of the Stanley Cup,” Satchel Price, SB Nation (08/14/2017)

What Is Art? Are We Art? Is Art Art?

Every time the Marlins hit a home run, the gigantic “sculpture” in left-center field is set in motion. If you’ve never seen it, enjoy:

When the stadium first opened a few years ago, people were horrified. It was the butt of many jokes. But time passed, and as often happens, the once reviled “sculpture” became…sorta beloved. The sculpture hit its peak at the All-Star Break, hosted by the Marlins. This great article by Grant Brisbee is a good example. Not long after the break, though, the Marlins announced their intention to sell the team to a group that includes Boring-as-Hell Derek Jeter. It did not take long before news leaked that the group, and Boring-as-Hell Derek Jeter in particular, planned to remove the sculpture. WHY DO YOU HATE FUN, JETER?

Thankfully, the local government has stepped in. The sculpture will not be going anywhere:

Standing 73 feet tall, the mechanical display sends marlins and flamingos whirring whenever the Marlins hit a home run (TOB Note: Haha. Still funny). It was commissioned as part of Miami-Dade’s Art in Public Places program, which requires construction of county buildings to include art as well. The sculpture by well-regarded pop artist Red Grooms is named “Homer,” cost $2.5 million and, like Marlins Park, belongs to Miami-Dade’s government.

“The County commissioned and purchased the Home Run Sculpture with the public art funds generated by the ballpark project,” Michael Spring, head of the county’s cultural affairs arm, said in an email Thursday. It “was designed specifically for this project and location and is permanently installed. It is not movable.”


Source: “County on Marlins home Run Sculpture: ‘It is not movable.’ (Also, the Mayor Doesn’t Like It)“, Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald (08/17/2017)

PAL: If anything, it will serve as a very large reminder to never publicly finance another stadium.


The Falcons new stadium opens this season. Cool, cool. Another terrible waste of taxpayer money. But that’s not why I’m writing about it. I’m writing because the stadium has a Chick-fil-A inside. Mmm, delicious, chicken-y (homophobic) Chick-fil-A. Wherever your politics land, Chick-fil-A is inarguably tasty. Not the best, but tasty, especially for fast food. Falcons fans are no stranger to Chick-fil-A. It is headquartered there, and there are dozens in and around the city of Atlanta. But if you’re at a Falcons game this Fall, it is very unlikely you’ll be able to get some Chick-fil-A. Why? Well, Chick-fil-A observes the sabbath. No Chick-fil-A, no matter where it is located, is open on Sundays. Can you see where this is headed? Yes, they built a Chick-fil-A, in the stadium, that won’t be open on Sundays, when NFL teams generally play. It will only be open when the Falcons play on Thursdays or Mondays. This year, that will occur once. HAHA. Dadgum, that’s some terrible planning. -TOB

Source: The Falcons’ New Stadium Has a Chick-fil-A, Which Won’t Be Open For Most Falcons Games“, Matt Bonesteel, Washington Post (08/16/2017)

Video of the Week: 

PAL Song of the Week: Ryan Adams – “Ashes & Fire”



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“I hate disappointing just one person. And I really hate disappointing everyone. But I love Burlington Coat Factory.”

-M. Scott

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