September 26, 2009
…And some guys can’t wait. After the last 7+ months of hanging around 25 other guys, many of whom were the same over these last 7+ months, you can get pretty sick of some faces. Players love to talk about the camaraderie after they retire, how much they miss it and, if they could come back for one reason, that may be it. But when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re part of the baseball stew some people label as a “team,” you can really look forward to not seeing certain guys anymore. Or at least until mid-February.
Yet, there’s the other side. While some guys can’t wait to get away from their well-paid group of “friends” who either weren’t paid enough or weren’t worth their paychecks, hence the going home after game 162, there are some guys who don’t want to go home. Why? You’ve heard phrases like Life begins at 40, right? For ballplayers, Live begins at home once the season ends. In other words, the responsibility of thinking basically only about yourself every day ends abruptly. Now you need to think about the wife or live-in girlfriend and the kids. The younger guys might end up going home to where their parents live; maybe not the same house, but likely the same town. Since most kids aren’t buddy/buddy with their folks, and since most Thanksgiving dinners are not the stuff of a Norman Rockwell painting, most MLB kids do not look forward to seeing Mom & Dad every day for the next 5 months.
For some players, there’s surgery. Read the Notes section a day or two after the last game of the season and you’ll see this player and that player are suddenly scheduled for some sort of surgery, ranging from minor to Six Million Dollar Man rebuilding, the kind that you’ll hear about as spring training begins and ends and our Six Million Dollar Man is wearing jeans every day instead of a jock. If you’ve ever had surgery, any kind of surgery, it’s not fun. Some guys know already they’ll have to go under the knife the first or second week of October. Some guys know but are in denial about it, just like they’ve been in denial about how bad their team is, and will continue to be, in order to get to this point in the season. Some guys just think they’re sore right now and are in for quite a surprise once they take that exit physical. And then the fun of the off season, of not having to travel all the time or live in a hotel half the time or hang out with a band of jerks most of the time or get badgered by the media the times when you screw up doesn’t really matter because you’re going to spend much of your upcoming time rehabbing. If you lust for the upcoming 5 months, surgery is like a cold shower.
The upcoming off season isn’t really an off season for some players. Some are going to fly to Arizona or Hawaii or Mexico or Central America and keep playing. There’s the Arizona Fall League for the game’s more elite prospects and the Caribbean League for those who either come from that part of the world or need to get better at their game. Some will keep playing because they simply love to play baseball. They grew up playing ball all year round. Why stop just because they’re adults? Others live for the Caribbean League because they are stars down there. Even if they’re not big shots in the States, they may be legends-in-the-making south of our borders. There are always fans willing to pay to scream your name. There are always ladies will to whisper your name in your ear. There is always the pull of fame and its perks. When the MLB season ends, the fun for some has just begun.
Finally, there are the guys who are going to spend the entire off season either being courted by teams and sponsors – your elite free agents – or guys doing the courting – your 25th man free agents. These are the guys who will feel the stress of looking for work starting 15 days after the last game of the World Series. Some guys will love the process. It’ll be their Caribbean League equivalent, getting loved and cheered by front office executives, media personnel and fans in cities you could love if the money is right.
Other players will hate the process. There’s either the stress of squeezing as much money as possible in a bad economy from the winning bidder and then living up to your new billing as The Next Big Thing or there’s the stress of your phone not ringing. There’s that stress of knowing your agent is working to get 28 other guys jobs before he gets to you. Which means the available jobs won’t be as lucrative as you had dreamed, or the city you’ll have to settle for isn’t on a coast, or you might be insulted by not getting any offers until Christmas and New Year’s and MLK Day and Valentine’s Day pass you by. There’s the stress of waiting and wondering why you skipped playing in Puerto Rico this off season when you could have been showing off your skills instead of protecting yourself from possible injury. Add in that you potentially don’t like your wife (or she doesn’t like you), your parents bug you every day, and, quite frankly, you don’t have anything to do and suddenly miss the camaraderie of hanging out with a bunch of jerks all the time and you’ll begin to long for the end of the off season. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself telling people you can’t wait for 2010, when The New Season Cometh and you can get away from the reality of a cold winter without baseball.
Jimmy Scott is probably the greatest pitcher you’ve never heard of. Visit Jimmy Scott’s High & Tight to read more from Jimmy and guests Desi Relaford, Eric Valent & Cassidy Dover. You’ll also hear a new interview every Monday morning with former MLB players, agents, wives and others; giving new outlooks on this great game we call Baseball. Go there now to hear Jimmy’s latest interviews with Rollie Fingers, Desi Relaford, Brent Mayne and MLB Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. You can follow Jimmy on Twitter or Facebook.
September 23, 2009
Arturo Gatti the former champion who was allegedly murdered by his wife back in July was honored this past Saturday evening down in Atlantic City New Jersey. The Atlantic City Convention Center/Hall where Gatti had some of his most memorable fights and established record gate receipts..
Main Events, promoter of Gatti, had an appropriate tribute to their late champion staging a six-bout boxing card, video tributes and proclamations including a street in Atlantic City now named Arturo Gatti, His last nine fights were at Convention Hall on the boardwalk and Gatti fights hold a record of drawing over 100,000 fans.
“When he went to war he went to war,” said Steve Martinez about Gatti. The resident of Castle Hill, a New York City Golden Gloves champion, opened the evening with a second round TKO over Stanley Harvey and set the tone for a great evening in honor of Gatti, the champion who had some of his legendary fights on the boardwalk.
Martinez, a light middleweight is now 2-0 as a professional after his latest win. He quickly disposed his opponent with a left hook. “It was an honor to open the show and have a knockout,” said Martinez who saw the three Gatti-Mickey Ward fights on video.
The Gatti-Ward fights became a historic trilogy in the sport and cemented Gatti’s legacy that will eventually be rewarded with Hall of Fame status.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com .
September 15, 2009
New York – Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is a winner either way when Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto step in the ring November 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as Cotto defends his WBO welterweight championship. Arum has promotional rights for both fighters and this could be the beginning of the next and exciting trilogy in the sport.
Arum is familiar with the trilogy, especially when it comes to welterweights having been a part of lucrative promotions in the 1980’s with Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. Years later, the division is the best in boxing and in the mix again is the r Floyd Mayweather Jr. who gets back in the ring again Saturday evening opposing Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday evening out in Vegas, a fight televised on HBO pay-per-view.
“This fight will be the most exciting and memorable event that Top Rank has promoted in 40 years,” said a gleaming Arum as Cotto and Pacquiao kicked off a five city media tour to promote the fight at Yankee Stadium last Thursday. The Yankee Stadium press conference is also an indicator that boxing will return to the new stadium.
Arum and New York Yankees Chief Executive Officer Lonn Trost have been friends over the years, and there has been discussion with the two about hosting a major fight at the new ballpark in the Bronx. Reportedly, if Cotto wins in November the second of a possible three fights will take place at Yankee Stadium.
“I am not ruling that out,” claimed Arum about a Cotto-Pacquiao fight at the Stadium. He also said Mayweather could also get Cotto, but Arum, who once promoted Mayweather has made it known that his two fighters are more exciting and not entertainers like Mayweather is.
Either way, Mayweather could spoil the plans if he prevails Saturday. Boxing fans suddenly get two possible fights with anticipation if Mayweather prevails. There could be a Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-Cotto fight on the horizon. But the logic is that Mayweather, who returns to the ring after a year-and a half of inactivity does not deserve immediate title consideration.
“I am certain it will take place as an exciting and action packed classic such as Hagler-Hearms and Ali-Frazier III,” said Arum referring to some of the great trilogies in boxing history that Arum has promoted. Top Rank staged the last fight card at the old Yankee Stadium on September 26, 1976 when heavyweight world champion Muhammad Ali got a decision over Ken Norton in their third epic fight.
“Firepower” as the fight has been billed will be the anticipated one of the year as Pacquaio, considered the best pound-for-pound fighter, and Cotto offer excitement and have a tremendous fan base. “Pacquiao and Cotto will join that list of boxing classics,” said Arum about the trilogies he has promoted over the years.
As for the fight, Cotto (34-1, 27 Ko’s) of Caguas Puerto Rico, has made it known he has overcome any flaws that were seen in his last fight when he won a controversial 12-round unanimous decision against former IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey in June at Madison Square Garden. Cotto sustained a nasty cut then over his left eyebrow from a Clottey head butt in the third round that needed six stitches below is eye and 14 in the bad one above his eye so he had trouble seeing Clottey’s right hand.
“It is the biggest step of my career,” said Cotto about his upcoming fight with Pacquiao Once again Cotto will set up training camp in Tampa Florida with his trainer Joe Santiago. “He has fought a lot of tough fighters but never one like me,” he said referring to Pacquiao who has won six world titles in as many weight divisions ranging from 112 to 140 pounds.
In his last fight back on May 2, Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37KO’s) dealt defending junior welterweight champion Rickey Hatton a one-punch second-round knockout. “Miguel Cotto is strong and smart and that is a dangerous combination for anyone that challenges him,” said Pacquiao.
And Pacquiao once again has his trainer, Freddie Roach, perhaps the best in the business. All focus and concentration now for Pacquiao as Roach tries to keep his popular fighter from the Philippines free from the distractions due to his popularity. “There won’t be any distractions,” said Roach. “I won’t let that happen.”
“He has respect for every fighter he meets and I am expecting the fight to go the distance,” added Roach. “Can’t let this guy (Cotto) land that left hook…We will be well prepared. It’s a good match up and if there is a trilogy it will be good for boxing.”
The fight televised on pay-per-view is what boxing needs. The two fighters know that, so does Arum who has a way of making noise to try and revive a sport that is desperate for some excitement. Cotto and Pacquiao could certainly revive some interest.
“Cotto vs. Pacquiao will join that list of boxing classics,” promised Arum. And barring no complications it certainly should.
Throwing the punches: Arum also has a good card set for the Madison Square Garden WaMu Theatre “Island Warriors” also known as “Latin Fury 12” on Saturday evening October 12 also on pay-per-view. Juan Manuel Lopez ( 26-0, 24KO’s) the WBO junior featherweight champion from Cotto’s hometown of Caguas opposes (26-12, 2, 18Ko’s) Rogers Mtagwa of Philadelphia
The co-main event is undefeated WBA featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (15-0, 13Ko’s) of Cuba defending against 13th ranked Whyber Garcia (23-6, 15KOo’s) pf Panama City, Panama. If all goes to plan, Arum hopes to main event Lopez against Gamboa in the Garden main arena sometime next year…
Hector Camacho jr. is in the ring again and serious about a title opportunity. His next test is trying to overtake the veteran and former IBG light middleweight champion “Yori Boy” Campus (92-14-1, 74KO’s) of Mexico, Camacho (49-3-1, 27Ko’s) son of the former champion Hector Sr. is claiming this time he is in the best condition of his career and ready to make an impact.
Said Joe Diaz, trainer of Campus, “No Puerto Rican will ever beat a Mexican.” The fight will be hostile territory for Camacho as it takes place on the campus of UTEP in El Paso Texas on October 30th next to the Mexican border. And in past boxing history the words of Diaz may be true. Most recently, Cotto lost to the Mexican Antonio Margarito for Cotto’s WBA title. We all know though that fight was contested as Margarito was suspended for a year for using tainted hand wraps under his gloves…
Heavyweight John Ruiz is still in the picture for another opportunity with the various alphabet soup organizations. The former two-time champion is hoping to get a title shot against either Klitschko brother Vitali the WBC champion or Wladimir the IBF champion, Vitali defends against Christobal Arreola September 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles televised on HBO…
Julio Chavez Jr. son of the legendary champion of Mexico City (40-0-1, 30KO’s) easily disposed Jason LeHoukkier in less than a round this past weekend. The junior middleweight is ranked third by the WBC and will soon get a title opportunity against the champion Sergio Martinez.
Giovanni Lorenzo of the Dominican Republic, who opted to stay at middleweight and not enter the Showtime upcoming televised Super Middleweight Tournament, will get his title opportunity. He has arrived in Neubrandenburg Germany for his Saturday battle with Sebastian Sylvester for the vacant IBF Middleweight championship…
Arum says he does not fear the popularity of MMA fighting that does record numbers of pay-per-view and has hurt the sport. “They don’t box, they brawl and they are a bunch of…. “ Determine what he said in sexual connotations as to what MMA fighters do when they are on the mat. Uncalled words from Arum who with some fighting words, knows that rival promoter Oscar De La Hoya is involved with MMA which has become a lucrative industry and has taken in more than one boxing fan..
Our best wishes to fight broadcaster Nick Charles of Showtime who is in his biggest fight to overcome his battle with cancer. Nick is on the sidelines undergoing treatments in Texas and thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. He is one of the good guys in the business who knows how to call them at ringside with partner Steve Farhood.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com
September 10, 2009
When ESPN reported that there was a “schism” in the Vikings’ locker room because of the very late addition of former MVP Brett Favre to quarterback the team this season, I wondered if the anaonymous complainers were, in fact, the very people that Favre was replacing.
I mean, really. Outside of Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, who else thinks the team has a better shot of winning a Super Bowl with either of them, instead of a hopefully healthy Favre? Their moms?
Highly respected columnist Jason Whitlock doesn’t think Favre was signed by Minnesota to win a Super Bowl. He calls the guy who led last year’s Jets to an 8-3 record before getting injured a Brett Favre is a “swiftboat”, being used to get a new stadium for the Vikings, not a title.
“He’s a political football. He’s a tactic in a $700 million negotiation with Minnesota taxpayers. (Minnesota owner) Zygi Wilf gave the Hall of Fame QB a two-year, $25 million contract so he could use him as a prop in a game that has little to do with winning a Super Bowl.”
So the Vikings don’t want to win a Super Bowl?
I don’t buy it. Sure, signing Favre will help a whole helluva lot to getting a new stadium, but winning a Super Bowl will probably accomplish that as well.
In fact, hoisting the first-ever Vince Lombardi Trophy will probably make a foregone conclusion.
However you want to spin it, the fact of the matter is, a healthy Favre is twice the signal-caller either of his backups are, even at his advanced age and declining skills. Coach Brad Childress does too. It’s probably why he out his job on the line by wooing his former pupil at Green Bay for the last three years.
And, you know what? I think he’s right.
So does Troy Aikman. “You can’t talk Super Bowl without talking about the Vikings with Brett Favre.”, the former Super Bowl champion quarterback told FoxSports.com
With a big play defense, a superb running attack, and guys who can catch, having someone who can actually call a game, throw accurate passes and has a resume of winning might just help.
In fact, Brett Favre might just win the whole damn thing for the Vikes. Maybe then he’ll retire. I’m predicting he does both.
September 4, 2009
LEMONT, Ill. (Sept. 4, 2009) – Tiger Woods, the world’s No. 1-rated golfer and current leader in the FedExCup Points standings, today informed BMW Championship tournament officials of his commitment to play in this year’s Championship as the event returns to Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill., September 7-13.
Woods is a four-time winner of the Western Golf Association’s annual professional championship and took home the trophy in 2007, the last time the event was contested at Cog Hill and the first year of the BMW Championship and PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. Woods previously won the event in 1997, 1999 and 2003 when it was known as the Western Open. In addition to his four previous WGA wins, Woods has four other top-10 finishes – including runner-up finishes in 2005 and
2006 – in 12 career starts in the event.
“As a long-time friend of the WGA since his days competing in the Western Junior, and winning the 1994 Western Amateur, Tiger Woods has been a key figure in the history of our championships and will highlight an incredibly competitive field for this year’s BMW Championship,” said Vince Pellegrino, vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association, which conducts the BMW Championship in partnership with BMW and the TOUR. “Tiger has had some outstanding performances at Cog Hill in the past, and it’ll be great for our fans to have the opportunity to watch him compete here again.”
The BMW Championship – the third event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs – returns this year to Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill., the week of Sept. 7-13. The Championship will be contested on Dubsdread, Cog Hill’s championship course, where Tiger Woods will join 69 other top TOUR stars in competition for a $1.35 million winner’s share of the championship’s $7.5 million purse. Last year’s BMW Championship was contested at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis and was won by Camilo Villegas.
For more information on the BMW Championship, or to order tickets at any time, visit the championship’s Web site at: www.BMWChampionshipUSA.com or call 847-724-4600.
All proceeds from the BMW Championship benefit the WGA’s Evans Scholars Program, which provides full housing and tuition college scholarships to deserving golf caddies. This fall, more than 840 young men and women caddies will be attending college on Evans Scholarships.
September 4, 2009
With two–thirds of its conference (8 of 12 teams) accounting for one-third of the top 24 of the 2009 Football Championship Subdivision preseason coaches poll, the Colonial Athletic Association embarks on its third season of football with high expectations as unquestionably the best FCS conference top to bottom.
And, why not?
In its first year of existence, the CAA placed a record-tying five teams in the 16-team 2007 FCS playoffs, while springing a few upsets over top seeds from other conferences and placing Delaware in the FCS championship game.
For an encore, the CAA broke that record, sending six teams to the 2008 FCS playoffs, while producing last season’s FCS national champion, the Richmond Spiders. There’s every reason to believe that CAA success will continue in 2009. Richmond is ranked second in the nation, heading a group of four CAA teams ranked among the top eight in the 2009 preseason FCS coaches poll.
One of those teams, #5 Villanova, and another nationally-ranked team, #19 Maine, kicked things off for the CAA in 2009 on Thursday night. In one case, the CAA impressed against a superior division. In the other, it was the opposite. However, the final results of each were along the same lines of the CAA’s first two seasons –- winning in the CAA continued, and in dramatic fashion each time.
Villanova 27, Temple 24
Seventeen days before the Philadelphia Eagles’ scheduled home opener on the same field, Villanova used a big second half to rally from deficits of 10-0 at halftime and 24-14 in the fourth quarter, to capture the inaugural Mayor’s Cup game with a 27-24 victory over Football Bowl Division opponent Temple, at Lincoln Financial field in Philadelphia, when redshirt freshman kicker Nick Yako calmly booted a 32-yard game-winner as time expired.
Ironically, Villanova’s last win against an FBS opponent was a different three-point win over Temple, 23-20, in 2003, in the first game ever played at the same stadium affectionately called The Link.
This time, the opportunistic Wildcats won the turnover battle 5-1, while their second-half comeback was sparked by signal caller, senior quarterback Chris Whitney, who rebounded from a mediocre 7-for-14 first half to complete 17 of 21 passes after halftime, to finish 24 of 35 for a career-high 278 yards. Whitney’s favorite target was a big one –- both in physical stature and in his ability to come up big on Thursday night –- 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey, who had game-highs of 9 catches and 142 receiving yards, including a clutch 6-yard touchdown reception from Whitney with 1:24 left in the game, to tie the score, 24-24, setting the stage for Yako to be the hero… Up next for the 1-0 Cats is Lehigh at home, on September 12th.
Maine 34, St. Cloud State 27
While Villanova knocked off an FBS team on a neutral field, Maine struggled in what should have been a fairly easy season-opening tune-up at home, against feisty and inspired Division II St. Cloud State. After a St. Cloud State field goal, Maine took its first lead, 7-3, on a first quarter 80-yard kickoff return from Desmond Randall, who bounced back nicely after missing the entire 2008 season with an injury. However, the Black Bears, could not contain wide receiver Fred Williams, who set a school record with a game-high 15 catches (all but 7 of St. Could State’s 22 completions for the game) for 171 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass, putting St. Cloud State ahead, 24-20, with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter. But, what senior quarterback Mike Brusko was limited to (9-13 for 101 yards) with his arm, he did with his legs, carrying 22 times for 86 yards, as the Black Bears’ running game was in session –- that is, with sophomore tailback Derek Session, who led the way with 133 rushing yards in 22 attempts, including a 10-yard touchdown run that gave Maine a short-lived 27-24 lead with 1:59 left in regulation, before Brusko plunged into the end zone with what proved to be the game-winning score in overtime, from a yard out… the Black Bears next game is its CAA opener at Northeastern, on September 12th.
Other CAA Teams Kicking Off This Weekend
Nine other CAA teams will start their seasons this weekend. Of special note…
A pair of CAA teams will challenge the FBS and the ACC on the road on Saturday:
- #2 Richmond will play at Duke while…
- #14 William & Mary stays in state to play at Virginia.
Meanwhile, also on Saturday:
- #18 UMass will play an FBS and Big 12 opponent when it travels to Kansas State, and…
- Hofstra, whose #24 ranking following a 4-8 campaign in 2008, demonstrates the depth and quality of the CAA, will host fellow Long Island FCS rival Stony Brook.
September 4, 2009
It’s September. The pennant races are officially pennant races. The whole, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” thing can be thrown out like Prince Fielder trying to steal second base because, yes, it’s a sprint.
This isn’t just a sprint of teams trying to make the final eight. It’s also a sprint of September call-ups, injured (former) stars and desperate role players all jockeying for a spot on the 2010 roster. Whose roster? It really doesn’t matter. To be on a Major League team is Goal #1. To have a say in which team? Like the commercial says: Priceless.
Think of a guy like Carlos Delgado of the Mets. His contract runs out on October 3rd. Rather than receive an extension, he’ll be looking for work. A hip injury put him on the DL in May, and just as he was about to come back to the field, an oblique injury put a stop to that. A guy like Delgado needs a couple weeks to prove he’s worth an investment by some team for 2010. Barring recovery in the next 30-ish days, he might be one of those guys you read about in January, trying out for scouts on some back Puerto Rican ballfield.
Lefty Ron Mahay of the Twins has been healthy this year. The problem is he hasn’t been great, or at least that’s what his statistics say. Ineffective in Kansas City, he was designated for assignment and released, going from a last place, underperforming Royals team, to an AL Central contender. Ron’s performance during the next month will either raise his value to another multi-year, multi-million dollar contract or a floater getting picked up just as camps begin in February.
Then there’s a guy like Paul Byrd, who took the majority of 2009 off because, well, he wanted to. When he decided he did want to come back, the Red Sox signed him. His first start was six innings of shutout ball. What’s September mean to him? It means a Wild Card October and one more shot at a World Series he’s never reached after 3 Championship Series appearances. But even more than that, Paul Byrd’s September is one more opportunity to see if he wants to play next year or follow through on his most-of-2009 sit -out and retire for good.
There are more stories like these, many of players only the hardcore or fantasy baseball fans know about. But they’re out there, taking early BP, watching extra video, or doing some extra pre-game warning track wind sprints. Because the season’s winding down and there’s no time left for marathon training. Just playing hard and making the most of these last 30 days.
Jimmy Scott is probably the greatest pitcher you’ve never heard of. Visit Jimmy Scott’s High & Tight to read more from Jimmy and guests Desi Relaford, Eric Valent & Cassidy Dover. You’ll also hear a new interview every Monday morning with former MLB players, agents, wives and others; giving new outlooks on this great game we call Baseball. Go there now to hear Jimmy’s latest interviews with Rollie Fingers, Desi Relaford, Brent Mayne and MLB Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. You can follow Jimmy on Twitter or Facebook