Posted on: July 24, 2008 6:36 pm
Last night, at dinner, one of the many topics that came up was the huge brawl the other night in the WNBA. For my two cents I have always considered the WNBA the Women's Non-Basketball Association. And, during dinner last night, I made the mistake of saying that the big fight in the WNBA "might be the only thing I am less interested in watching than the actual WNBA." Then, a few hours ago, I saw this story regarding a free agent signing in the league. If this trend continues then perhaps there is still hope that I could see Bob Cousy play in person...
Posted on: July 22, 2008 12:44 am
Saturday was a great day for MMA...or at least it was SUPPOSED to be a great day for MMA. First, there was the long-awaited debut of the new Affliction organization - featuring a card that was being billed as the "greatest" heavyweight line up ever assembled. Well...the greatest heavyweight was certainly there - just ask Tim Sylvia, if he can speak coherently by now. It was a long time since Fedor Emelianenko had fought, and there were some who were concerned that he might be rusty. But he turned out to be as rusty as a 2009 Camaro. For those with short memory spans, the Affliction fight card was all it was expected to be. But for those who remember the slew of washed up, overweight, and uninspiring heavyweights that came before the Fedor fight...well, it was a different story entirely.
To combat the hype behind the Affliction fight, UFC President Dana White rolled out a free event on Spike featuring Anderson "Spider" Silva - probably the only fighter in the world in any weight class that can rival Emelianenko's explosive dominance (my apologies George St. Pierre and B.J. Penn). Again, the undercard was dominated by utterly forgettable match ups - including a horrendous ending to the one fight all night that was actually worth watching - Kevin Burns and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson. But, by the time Anderson - now fighting up an entire weight class - entered the ring against James "Sandman" Irvin, nothing earlier really mattered all that much. In what seemed like a matter of miliseconds, Silva caught a kick attempt from Irvin in mid-air, held the leg, and dropped a bomb on Irvin's face that ended the fight - and any chance he had of ever making the cover of GQ Magazine.
So...the two megastars held up their ends of their respective bargains, but the overall impact of the night fell well short of expectations. Fedor now awaits a fight with Randy Couture that might never happen with the current contract dispute between "The Natural" and the UFC. And Silva awaits any opponent who might actually stand a chance against him in the Octagon - which might actually be less likely to happen than Fedor-Couture. Silva is taking dominance to a new level in the UFC, and he is doing it with a level of class and showmanship that makes him one of the single most exciting athletes in all of sports right now - as well as one of the easiest to root for.
Saturday didn't take MMA to any new levels, that much is certain. But the good news is that MMA is going strong enough that it will still prosper in spite of what failed to materialize on Saturday. Especially the more we see of Fedor and Spider Silva.
Posted on: July 16, 2008 5:05 am
Edited on: July 16, 2008 5:07 am
Consider these facts...I'm a huge college basketball fan - it is my favorite sport and has been for most of my life. I'm not yet 34 years old. Therefore, even with just that granule of information, the following statement is completely safe to make:
I have NEVER experienced a Final Four that did NOT include Billy Packer.
That is pretty phenomenal when you think about it. I've heard countless broadcasts teams take on the 20+ Superbowls I have witnessed. Between BCS games and the days when different bowls determined the college football National Championship, who knows how many different broadcasters were involved. The World Series? The NBA Finals? The Olympics? Again, more different faces and voices than I could ever hope to remember.
But not Final Fours. Final Fours are easy to recount - because Billy Packer has been involved in every single one of them during my lifetime. I don't care whether you love him, hate him, or could care less about him - he IS the voice of the Final Four. That, alone, demands an incredible level of respect. Perhaps the admiration is optional, but the respect certainly is not.
So, as the weeks until March slowly disappear, it will be a weird feeling. Sure I am very comfortable with Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg - though it will be very different to have Clark on the sidelines instead of in the studio. He has energy, he has enthusiam, he has experience and he has insight. But we still can't be sure what we are getting from him, and we won't know until late March. That's a strange feeling - and a very foreign one for college basketball fans in my demographic.
More than anything, Billy Packer was comfortable. He was the old chair that you knew you could replace, but that you kept because you knew - if nothing else - you would always be able to sit in it comfortably. There was very little risk involved, and you were OK with it. It was like choosing to approach the girl who is a 7 out of 10 instead of a 9. Who wouldn't want a 9...but it was easier to work up the nerve to face off with a 7. And there was no shame - no shame at all - in spending your time with that 7.
Maybe this Selection Sunday will feature more pleasant banter than the last few. Perhaps the color commentary on the tournament games won't be so rigid and critical. Heck, we might even get the feeling that the broadcast team is ENJOYING the Final Four this year, after many recent years where it wasn't that obvious. But don't be surprised if - at several points during the 2009 Final Four - you don't start to miss that old chair at least a little bit.