Refs Pull Plug On Pac-Man

Saturday night was a dark day for the sport of boxing.  The sport  is already hurting due to the spike in popularity of the UFC and MMA, the lack of heavyweight contenders, and the need for more superstar caliber fighters.  Manny Pacquiao is one of the very few faces of boxing, if not THE face of boxing.  Saturday night he entered the ring as the WBO Welterweight champion against undefeated opponent Tim Bradley.  Saturday night will go down in history as one of the worst if not worst decisions in boxing ever.  Anybody with at least 20/400 vision will tell you that Manny Pacquiao dominated Tim Bradley through 12 rounds.  Most people covering boxing who were scoring the fight had Pacquiao winning somewhere between 11 rounds to 1 and at worst 9 rounds to 3.  Pacquiao also came into the fight as the champion, and as far as my boxing knowledge extends one would have to clearly beat the champion to take the belt.  This was most definitely not the case in everybody’s eyes except the only three people that mattered.  The judges scored the fight 115-113 (Duane Ford and CJ Ross) in Bradley’s favor giving him the victory by split decision.

This is the age of the internet where if something significant happens in pop culture or sports it is known about in a matter of seconds.  Many people took to twitter saying what a travesty the decision was, boxing is fixed, Pacquiao was robbed, is this real life?  Even Tim Bradley had to be shocked.  After the final bell Bradley said to promoter Bob Arum, “I tried hard, but I couldn’t beat the guy”.  Then Bradley lied through his teeth saying, “I thought I won the fight.  I didn’t think he was as good as everyone says he was.  I didn’t feel his power.”  Bradley, you’re right he isn’t as good as everyone says he’s better.  He clearly outboxed Bradley.  Pacquiao said of Bradley, “He never hurt me with his punches; most of them landed on my arms,”.

I have been watching and following boxing for about 10 years now and from what I’ve learned you never want it to get to the judges scorecards, because than anything can happen.  Even when it is crystal clear that one man was the outright winner.  Nobody taught me boxing or showed me the sport, I picked it up on my own while following boxing great Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins.  He had been my favorite boxer since I started watching some 3 years prior, we also share the same birthday.  He’s probably the only thing I like that comes from Philadelphia.  On July, 16 2005, Hopkins defended his Middleweight title against Jermain Taylor.  The Pacquiao-Bradley fight reminded me of the Hopkins-Taylor right.  They are both similar.  Pacquiao and Hopkins hadn’t been beaten in a long time, Pacquiao riding a 7 year win streak, Hopkins hadn’t lost since 1993 against Roy Jones Jr. and held the title for 10 years.  Bradley and Taylor were undefeated and rising stars in the business.  I had Pacquiao and Hopkins winning the fight and didn’t think that either of their opponents had done enough to win the title.  Both decisions were controversial, none more controversial than the latter fight.

Here’s my take on the “controversy” surrounding the fight.  Much like Hopkins-Taylor, Pacquiao-Bradley pitted an older boxer seemingly on the way out to possibly the next face of boxing.  Here’s where boxing gets a little “WWF-ish” in its respect.  Boxing which is currently in dire need of a new face thought that giving the title to Bradley would be in their best interest.  He will presumably be here for the foreseeable future, while Pacquiao’s future is in question.  Pacquiao is a member of Congress in the Philippines and is considered to be a future presidential lock.  Bradley is young and undefeated much like Jermain Taylor was at the time when he faced Bernard Hopkins.  Hopkins was 40 years old when he took on Jermain Taylor and he had promised his mother he would retire.  Well Hopkins is still boxing and just lost his WBC and Ring Light Heavyweight Title to Andre Dawson this past April.  Yes, 7 years later at 47 Hopkins still held a title.  Pacquiao could have been robbed of this match and his title for similar reasons that Hopkins was being pushed out as the champ against Taylor.

Manny Pacquiao is granted a rematch if he wants one.  If he takes it, it will only prolong the highly anticipated and most wanted match of this side of the century against Floyd Mayweather.  Many think that Pacquiao-Mayweather would be the best fight in recent memory and are probably right.  If you’re Pacquiao or even Mayweather for that matter do you want to even take that chance now?  What if Mayweather is seen as winning the fight but loses on the judges scorecards and tarnishes his undefeated record?  What if Pacquiao outboxs Mayweather much like he did Bradley but still doesn’t come out on top?  Pacquiao is a class act and even after finding out that his title was taken from him right in front of his face, he just smiled.  Pacquiao is the definition of class in boxing even when it seems boxing has lost its class.  In my opinion Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao should walk away from boxing right now.  He doesn’t need the rematch against Bradley to prove anything.  He shouldn’t even consider giving the sport of boxing its biggest payday ever by fighting Mayweather.  He has just been done dirty by the same sport he seemingly has put on his back the past 7 years.  The pound-for-pound best fighter in the world should turn around and hit boxing with a left hook that they didn’t see coming and hand up his gloves right now.  Then what would boxing do?  They would be remembered as doing wrong by the man the fans love to watch fight.  A lot of people would probably never watch boxing again, err for a long time, if he did retire.  Manny Pacquiao however has more class then me, the boxing organization, promoters, and the judges.

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Beasts in the East

It’s no secret that the American League East has been the superior division in Major League Baseball for quite sometime. For the past decade or so the Yankees and Red Sox have ruled that division, winning either the wild-card or the division. The Tampa Bay Rays broke onto the scene in 2008 and stole the division title away from both the Yankees and Red Sox. The once powerful American League East became a three pony race. This year in 2012, the Rays are currently in the lead of the division, while everybody else is looking up at them. The disparity of the division is only 3 games from worst to first and all the teams are donning winning records. The Baltimore Orioles are in second place! Yes, the same Orioles who last year scrambled together 69 wins. Just 54 games into the season and they are almost half-way to last years win total. I previously said that through the first quarter of the season Buck Showalter was the Manager of the Year in the American League. Of course there is plenty of baseball left in the season and anything can happen. That old three pony race might come to life again. Then again the three ponies could have different names this year. It will be exciting to watch the rest of the season and to see if the powerhouse teams will ultimately outrun the once bottom feeders of the division.

The best division in the National League this year is easily the East as well. The Atlanta Braves ruled the division for what seemed like eternity until 2006, when the Mets ran away with the division title. Then in 2007 Philadelphia became the “team to beat” in the National League East and have yet to relinquish the title. The Division always seemed like it had a clear favorite to win it each year, but 2012 has brought a change to that outlook. Many experts picked the Phillies to win the division yet again, while claiming the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, and the highly touted pitching staff of the Washington Nationals to fight and claw for second place. The New York Mets were written off and were doomed to claim last place in the division winning 70 games at best. My argument there is a whole other blog in itself and I wrote about it before the season started. The National League East right now as it stands is separated by 3.5 games. The favorite Phillies are holding down the last spot, mainly due to injuries, while the Nationals, Mets, and Marlins are all tied for first place. Like I said before, there is still a lot of baseball to be played and there is no telling what the dog days of summer and pennant races will do to a team’s psyche. I still believe my Mets can win anywhere from 82-90 games barring no detrimental injuries, although a few setbacks have already taken place. The Nationals pitching staff is outstanding right now and I overlooked their great manager Davey Johnson. Mets fans know him all too well. The Marlins seem to be streaking and the Braves will continue to fight.

The East is by far the best in baseball. Just check out the winning percentages of the divisions. The National League East currently has the highest winning percentage in baseball at .554 and the American League East sports the second highest with a .543 winning percentage. There are no other divisions in baseball with a winning percentage over.500 and the third closest is almost .100 points lower than the American League East. Maybe it helps that the three highest paid teams are in these divisions. Maybe it helps that in order to compete in these divisions you need to have good pitching and pitching is what wins in this league. Especially in the post steroids era where scoring numbers are down, pitching is key. The beasts in the east all have pretty exceptional rotations. With the expansion of an extra wild card team, don’t be surprised if three teams from each division make it to the playoffs this year.

For MLB standings go to:
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/index.jsp

No-Han Makes History

50 years. 8019 games. The New York Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. A franchise rich with pitching for decades, including Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Doc Gooden; no member of the Mets has ever achieved this feat. Seaver and Nolan have thrown plenty of no-hitters, after they left New York. The Mets took the field for game 8020 in its franchise with Johan Santana taking the mound. Friday nights game was slated to be a pitcher’s duel. Two pitchers, Adam Wainwright and Johan Santana, missed all of 2011 due to injury. Before their injuries they were both revered as two of the best pitchers in the game. One of them maintained their part in pitching like an ace. Johan Santana made Mets history.

Johan Santana missed all of 2011 due to a major shoulder surgery. He was struggling all year to secure wins despite pitching very well in almost every one of his starts. Friday night, he made sure that any run support he received would be enough. Terry Collins had previously put a pitch count of 115 on Johan. Friday night Terry Collins would have to eat his words for the sake of his ace pitcher. Johan, 33 years old, has started 273 games before Friday night and his 274th start will be his most memorable to date. After pitching in almost 2000 innings he has never thrown more than 125 pitches. After a career high 134 pitches he became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter.

Former Met, Carlos Beltran made a bid for a hit to leadoff the 6th inning, but the call was blown by third-base umpire Adrian Johnson. The replay showed the ball landing on the chalk down the third-base line. A spectacular catch was made by Mike Baxter against the outfield wall in the 7th inning. He would have to be pulled out of the game due to what is now being called a left shoulder bruise. Johan struck out David Frese on a 3-2 count with 2 out in the top of the 9th to seal the no-hitter. Johan threw 134 pitches with 5 walks and 7 strikeouts. This came after coming off of his 4 hit complete game shutout of the Padres.

Baxter’s amazing catch and the missed call by Adrian Johnson helped aid Santana and the Mets in obtaining their first no-hitter. Friday night was a memorable night for every Mets fan.

SIDE NOTES:

Philip Humber who was traded for Johan Santana also threw a no-hitter earlier this year.

13 No-hitters have been thrown by former Mets.

The Mets have thrown 35 one-hitters.

6 No-hitters have been thrown against the Mets.

The Cardinals have not been no-hit in 22 years before Friday night.