Category: Sports

Do You Believe in Magic?

Tonight, my son, Chris and I are heading over to Orlando to watch the Magic play a pre-season game against CSKA Moscow. Chris is a huge sports fan and the Magic are his favorite B-Ball team, so when I was able to score free tickets, it was a given that we’d go. It’s always a blast to see a game live… even if it is pre-season.

 

Thoughts on the Superbowl

The Patriots play the Giants today see who will be the Superbowl Champion. I really have no dog in this race.

On one hand I’d like to see the Giants win because they’re the underdogs and I like to pull for the ‘dog. On the other hand, the Pats have had an amazing run. If they win it today will finally quiet the Dolphins fans who keep yappin’ about their perfect season 36 years ago.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the Dolphins and I loved the 72 Dolphins that set the mark. But what many Dolphin fanatics don’t want to recognize is that the ‘fins went 14-0 during their regular season, while the Pats went 16-0. Oh, I can hear the ‘Finatics saying, “Well, don’t blame us because the season was shorter. We’d have beaten anyone that year.” Maybe, maybe not.

We really don’t know. What we DO know is that year Miami only beat two teams with winning records during their regular season run [Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets], and both of those teams were just 8-6. This year the Patriots have beaten two teams that were 13-3 [Dallas and Indianapolis], one that was 11-5 San Diego, three that were 10-6 [Cleveland, the Giants and Pittsburgh] and one, Washington, that was 9-7. Talk about strength of schedule! Also remember that while facing these tough teams New England set a new NFL record for scoring 589 points!

So who do I want to win? I guess it’s safe to say, let the best team win. If it’s the Patriots, it will be a great capper to a great season. If it’s the Giants, then more power to ’em.

Most likely the Dolpfanatics will keep yappin’ anyway it works out.

Muhammad Ali: Still the Greatest


Today is Muhammad Ali’s 65th birthday. It’s hard to believe that the champ is 65. It’s harder still to believe that Parkinson’s disease has been able to rob Ali of much of his health for many of these years.

I was five years old when Ali beat Liston for the title. Here was this brash young kid bragging that he’d beat this monster of a man. Then he did it. And then he did it again in a rematch. Ali was “the man.” He talked a lot of smack, but he backed it up. Plus it was obvious that he was having fun, so much of what he said seemed to be playful kidding around [until you stepped into the ring with him]. Ali was as cool as The Beatles or Elvis. In fact, Ali was the greatest.

 

I can remember the controversy that sprung up when Muhammad refused to enter the draft. Although I was against the war in Viet Nam, I felt that it was wrong to not support your country. Still, I admired Ali for standing by his convictions no matter the cost. And cost him it did. He was stripped of the title and not allowed to fight during three of what could have been his most productive years.

 

When Ali was once again allowed to fight, I can remember staying up late to watch it with my dad. Ali was fighting a tough guy named Jerry Quarry. Ali won by TKO in the 3rd. I had just turned 12 and Ali was still the greatest.

 

Less than a year later Ali fought Joe Frazier in what was to be the first of three legendary fights. Although Muhammad lost the fight, the battle become the thing of legends. Ali continued to fight and win.

 

Two years later, Ali fought and lost a split decision to Ken Norton. I was surprised about the loss, but even more so when I learned that Ali fought most [if not all] of the fight with a broken jaw. Six months later Ali beat Norton in the rematch. I was 14 and Ali was still the greatest.

 

Ali fought again the following month for an easy win. and then two months after that beat Joe Frazier in their first rematch. Their battle was another classic that went the entire 15 rounds, but this time Ali came out on top. Nine months later Ali entered the ring to fight Big George Foreman. Foreman was undefeated and had knocked out Frasier early. Heck, Foreman knocked almost everyone out early. Ali wasn’t given much of a chance. Of course we all know that Ali KO’d George in the 15th. I stayed up late listening to the results over the radio. I had just turned 16 and Ali was still the greatest.

 

In March of 75, Ali fought Chuck Wepner. No one gave Wepner ANY chance of winning. Still “The Bayonne Bleeder” went the distance in a losing effort and actually knocked Ali off of his feet at one point in the fight [although many say that it was more of a trip]. This fight, of course, is what inspired Sylvester Stallone to come up with “Rocky.” Ali followed with wins against Ron Lyle [talk about a huge, tough, ex-con] and Joe Bugner. In October of 75, Ali and Frazier met for the 3rd and final time. Ali won. I was 16 and Ali was still the greatest.

 

Ali fought regularly defending his title, winning against name fighters like Jimmy Young, Ken Norton [again] and Ernie Shavers. The Shavers fight was especially exciting. It was September 29, 1977. I was 18 years old and watched the fight while in Orlando for one of my first comic book conventions. After the fight, I got together with a bunch of my friends and played some poker. Of course we talked about how Ali was still the greatest!

 

Ali’s next fight was against a kid who had done well in the 76 Olympics. His name was Leon Spinks. The fight was televised on regular tv and I can remember watching it and seeing that the kid was winning. Spinks won with an upset decision. Ali later said that the loss to Spinks hurt more than any other of his career. Seven months later, at the age of 36, Ali beat Leon Spinks. I was 19 years old and Ali was still the greatest.

 

Muhammad didn’t fight again for over two years. Larry Holmes, one of Ali’s former sparring partners was champ, and Ali came back for “one last chance” to see him “dance.” I was at the pay-per-view the night that Holmes beat Ali. It wasn’t pretty. Still Muhammad gave it his all. As he did again when he came back 14 months later to fight a losing battle against Trevor Berbick. I was 23 years old and although Muhammad had lost, I felt he was still the greatest.

 

As the years have passed, Muhammad Ali’s legend has grown. He earned the nickname, “The People’s Champ” thanks to his popularity with folks of all races, soci-economic backgrounds and religions. Ali’s fans weren’t limited by borders. During his career he fought in 12 different countries; and was considered a true citizen of the world. Ali is probably more popular now than he was when he was in his fighting prime.

 

Today Muhammad Ali is 65 and he’s still the greatest.

“Cinderella Man” – Bad Title, Good Movie

Cinderella Man [hate that title] came in under the radar.

I should have seen it coming. It stars Russell Crowe and Rene Zellweger… is directed by Ron Howard… and is the story of how Jim Braddock shook the boxing world back in the ’30’s.

Still somehow, it slipped by me until I saw the trailer.

I’ll bet it doesn’t get missed come Awards time.

RIP: Reggie White

It’s just been posted that Reggie White died today of a massive heart attack.
Man, one of the best loved and greatest NFL defensive players ever… dead at 43.

“Today our beloved husband, father and friend passed away,” White‘s wife, Sara, said in a statement through a family pastor. “His family appreciates your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of Reggie White. We want to thank you in advance for honoring our privacy.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Reggie‘s family and friends.

Hoping for a Happy Ending for Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson, once the most feared fighter in the world, and a 9-1 favorite was knocked out in the fourth round by British heavyweight Danny Williams.

Yeah, Tyson‘s 38 years old. And yes, Williams outweighed Tyson by over thirty pounds. And it’s true that Tyson won the first three rounds on ALL of the judges‘ score cards. Tyson‘s people are already blaming the loss on a knee twisted in the first round.

Perhaps they didn’t see the flurry of punches Williams unleashed on Iron Mike in the fourth round which left him sitting on the canvas bloodied and beaten.

I was pulling for Tyson. I always seem to be pulling for him.  Sometimes I’m not sure why.

Mike Tyson had it all and blew it. From what I’ve read and seen of Mike, I doubt if I’d like to hang around with him for very long. Still he intrigues me. Tyson has a vast knowledge of boxing and a love for the sport and it’s history. He WAS the baddest man in the world until he hooked up with Don King. It’s like the storybook tale of a kid born with everything against him who overcomes it all… and then loses it

I guess I just keep hoping for a happy ending.

Only in America

Mike Tyson has earned over $300 million and is bankrupt.

I guess I shouldn’t feel bad for him, but I do. Tyson should have been on top of the world at this point in career… if he was even fighting. When he was in his prime nobody and I mean nobody could beat him. He was on track to break Marciano‘s record of wins without a defeat.

And then Don King came into his life. And we know what happened after that.

The sad thing is, Tyson is suing Don King for $100 million… but it looks like he’ll settle for a lot less… a whole lot less.

And I’ll bet you that after it’s all said and done, Tyson will end up fighting for Don King again.

Only in America… only in America.

Season Ends for Playmakers

If you were in charge of programing and had a new show that not only received critical praise, but also drew in five times the number of viewers than the network had during the previous year, what would you do?

Let me make it easy. I’ll give you three choices…
Would you A] Celebrate B] Give everyone a raise C] Cancel the show

If you answered C, you’d be right.

ESPN just cancelled Playmakers which was critically praised and did indeed bring in five times the number of viewers. Playmakers wasn’t just one of the best shows on ESPN, it was one of the best shows on TV. Period.

I’m hoping that another cable channel will pick it up. If not, I wish everyone who worked on it the best… because their work on the show was.

Charlie Hustle Deserves a Shot

Pete Rose should be given an opportunity to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rose holds 19 Major League records, including the All-time Major League records for most career hits – 4,256 and most games played – 3,562.

Why is Rose not in? Because as a manager he gambled on baseball. Although he never bet against his team and never threw a game, gamblling on baseball when you’re a player or manager is against the rules.

Did Rose deserve to be punished? Yes, and he has been.

Rose‘s book, My Prison Without Bars, details just how much he’s been punished.

As a manager, Rose broke the rules and perhaps the ban should be for life… but, the records that he set were as a player and it is because of these records that he deserves the opportunity to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Playmakers Scores!

Have you checked out ESPN’s new original series, Playmakers? If not, you should. So far two episodes have aired and they were both great!

Playmakers features an ensemble cast, with all of the characters played to perfection by mostly little known actors. The production values are first rate, but special mention should be given to the writing and direction. What could be a typical tv series about a football team is instead a compelling drama about the intertwining lives of characters who happen to play football for a living. But don’t get me wrong, the professional football backdrop is almost a character itself. I’m actually surprised at how real it all looks, sounds, and feels.

Playmakers is on Tuesdays at 9PM on ESPN. I give it my highest recommendation.
Check it out… even if you don’t like football, I’ll bet you’ll like Playmakers.

Deadline for War

The deadline for war has almost arrived. Who knows what the next few days [weeks?] will bring us.

The nation has gone to a higher state of alert. Cities are tightening their security. Turn on the tv and all you can find on news channels are reports from the front and speculation about what will happen next.

The NCAA basketball tourney will continue as planned. And that’s a good thing. I have three of the four number one teams in our annual family contest.

The Academy Awards are scheduled to be held on Sunday as planned [although there will be less red carpet and after party coverage]. I’m glad that both of these major events will go on as scheduled. We’re going to need something to divert our attention from the media overkill covering the war. I also think that we can’t let the possibility of terrorist attacks on the homefront cause us to change our lifestyle.

Well… it’s 8:00 straight-up. May God bless our troops and may this war end quickly.

A Tat and a Win

I used to follow boxing. Of course I’d watch all the big fights, the pay-per-views, bouts on HBO and Showtime, but I’d also catch the fights on ESPN and USA so I could see the up-and-coming fighters. It was there that I first saw a teenage MIKE TYSON knocking out everyone.

The kid had so much potential. If he had continued his streak as it started, he’d have to be considered the best heavyweight of all time. Even better than ALI or MARCIANO. But that didn’t happen.

After losing his mentor, CUS D’AMATO, MIKE TYSON lost fights, court cases… and some questioned, if maybe he’d lost his mind.

MIKE TYSON is no saint, but he’s paid his dues. He seems to be at peace with himself. From what I saw he was gracious and humble with his 49 second knockout of CLIFFORD ETIENNE last night. Perhaps the MIKE TYSON story will have a happy ending after all.