Bob Arum, Boxing, College Basketball, Don King, FIFA World Cup (2010), Geno Auriemma, Golf, NASCAR, Oscar De La Hoya, PGA, PGA Tour, Sports

2010 Was A Great Year In Some Sports And In Some Ways It Was An Unmitigated Disaster ….. Part Two !


2010 Was A Great Year In Some Sports And In Some Ways It Was An Unmitigated Disaster ….. Part Two !

The alphabet brigade still remains and the sport of boxing now is no better of than it was four years ago ! The pre-eminent fighter in the world isn’t a heavyweight nor does he happen to be North American. It is in fact a Filipino, Manny Pacquiao (52-38 KO’s 3-2) who is now a multiple world champion in eight different weight categories and quite rightly considered to be the best pound for pound fighter on the planet . He hasn’t been challenged mentally or physically by an opponent in years and it’s safe to say that without Pacquiao, the sport of boxing would become an elephant’s graveyard. Having made tens of millions financially from an immensely successful boxing career Manny Pacquiao’s skills show no signs of diminishing as evidenced in his ferocious beating of his last opponent Antonio Margarito in a fight that the referee Laurence Cole should have stopped to save the Mexican American fighter from further punishment. Margarito had welts over both eyes and a broken right orbital bone that had swollen to the size of a golf ball in their title fight that ended in a unanimous decision loss to the famed fighter.

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Slide show for your perusal .

With Pacquiao now perhaps leaning closer towards retirement , that one last big pay day that he’d hoped for in a super fight against arch rival Floyd Mayweather isn’t about to take place anytime soon. Especially not with Mayweather now facing legal troubles and the possibility of serving up to 35 years on a litany of felony charges ____ in prison courtesy of the Federal Court system within the Bureau of Prisons . Through his promoter and matchmaker Bob Arum , Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Shane Mosley in mid 2011 in a bout that will no doubt garner Pacquiao another lucrative payday but in all honesty at the end of the day the padding his fight resume’ against an over the hill Mosley is absolutely meaningless and an insult to boxing fans out there. But that’s now the state of the sport where the fans rarely get the fights they really want to see , instead we’re given that constant drivel of hapless and less than capable fighters and then we’re asked to pay at times in excess of $45-00 for the privilege of seeing such a spectacle even with an undercard of up of these upcoming bouts. Is it any wonder that the sport is now considered to be on its last legs ? So much so, that now mixed martial arts events by promoters such as Bellator , Strikeforce and UFC are now all the rage and capturing a larger slice of that once desired male demographic from within the sport of boxing. The sport itself is now finding a captive and receptive audience amongst female fans as well .

The boxing heavyweight scene has become a de-facto who’s who of rather marginal East European boxers who’ve essentially carved out a niche market for themselves . Atop of the heap are the Klitschko brothers , Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko who between them share four of the five recognized belts ratified out there. The lone none European heavyweight title holder is the Englishman David Haye who’s not really known on the North American continent, albeit that he was at one time the cruiserweight champion of the world . Another weight category created by the international governing bodies of the sport not only to create money but in large part to counteract that great divide from light heavyweight to heavyweight division where the fighters are now extremely larger.

If the sport is to remain prominent with its fans then the various promoters out there who control the dominant North American market will essentially have to be proactive making the most lucrative fights possible , rather than rehashing old fighters and serving them up as one big spectacle with a rather mundane story line as a prelude to what more often than not turns out to be a complete embarrassment. Consider this, an aging Evander Holyfield is still of the belief that he can regain the heavyweight title while slowly approaching his fifth decade. Given that the fighter now is merely fighting to stave off bankruptcy, legal entanglements concerning alimony and child support payments it’s easy to understand the reason behind this charade. In the meantime promoters such as Bob Arum ( Top Rank Inc ) , Don King ( Don King Productions ) and Oscar De La Hoya ( Golden Boy Promotions Inc ) continue to foist upon us fights that in large part don’t really capture the public’s imagination. If this situation continues then the sport will most definitely meet a slow and painful demise.

College Basketball saw the re-ascent of Duke (Blue Devils) to the top of men’s game having won their fourth NCAA National title with coach Mike Krzyzewski at the helm for all four . The program is now the most preeminent there is within the game and that’s with all due respect to the legacy achieved under the late John Wooden with the UCLA Bruins . The Blue Devils’ 61-59 victory over the Butler Bulldogs had the nation perhaps wanting the underdogs to win but that wasn’t to be the case as the team led by Kyle Singler would go on to a heart warming victory in the tournament. For Butler , coached by Brad Stevens , this placed his program firmly on the map and one that’s now admired nationwide. It’s safe to say that Stevens now hope that his team can repeat that feat this upcoming season .

For Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils’ program it’s pretty much safe to say that they’re now the pre-eminent college program in the country in terms Duke’s legacy under their esteemed coach. Krzyzewski to my mind would do the famed Wooden proud . Inasmuch as we can remember his feats over the years the lack of recent UCLA success would suggest that the Bruins while still remaining competitive still have something a mountain to climb to get back to the summit of the game they once ruled with such dominance. Duke now sits atop of the national rankings unbeaten at 11-0 while also leading the ACC .

In the women’s game the U Conn Huskies remain dominant under the tenure of their coach Geno Auriemma and having surpassed the astonishing feat of the UCLA Bruins’ 88 consecutive wins the Huskies are now sitting at 89 wins and counting . The unthinkable may well happen with this team reaching the century mark and perhaps along the way successfully defending their NCAA Women’s Basketball title this season . Stoutly led by standout players Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes it has to be said that there’s the belief that this team may not be seriously challenged in their quest in attaining both feats. And inasmuch as Auriemma has bemoaned the fact that his team and in particular the women’s game gets very little respect in the eyes of the public and press apart from the loyal Huskies’ fans up and down the country. I do believe that the coach ought to be simply thankful that he and the team are getting some ink in the print media and from the ever watchful eye of cable networks such as ESPN . Womens’ basketball doesn’t really resonate amongst the mainstream in the way that it does with the men’s game either at the collegiate or professional level. The NBA reigns supreme and meanwhile the WNBA struggles to capture a meaningful audience via its programming on either ABC or ESPN. Suffice to say that the Nielsen’s ratings barely garner a blip on the scale when the women’s basketball games are being televised .

It’s safe to say that soccer’s 2010 FIFA World Cup staged in South Africa captured the world’s attention and in particular that of the USA , with the team having qualified for the event. FIFA Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter and the Executive Committee having chosen the country to stage the world’s most popular sport and second most watched televised sporting event behind that of the Summer Olympics sought to broaden the appeal of the game globally and within the continent of Africa itself. For the country itself, it meant a sense of pride given its most recent history of apartheid under successive white Afrikaan’s regimes until the the successful election of Nelson Mandela as President and then his thoughtful process of peaceful reconciliation amongst the masses.

With the country now being led by incumbent President Jacob Zuma there was much indeed to feel proud about but given the fact that Blatter and a number of his hierarchy remained naive , somewhat intolerably silent concerning the sexual assaults , and murders of several female soccer players in the years leading up to the staging of the event , I found it somewhat insidious in the fact Blatter chose to remain silent on this very issue while speaking out about racial bigotry and violence being espoused by fans in the direction of the male players who happen to be of ethnic minority. How is that any different and less heinous than a female being raped, attacked or murdered by males within their country merely because of their alleged sexuality if they happen to be a lesbian ? As unthinkable as this might have appeared to be it was an occurrence that happened with increasing regularity in South Africa albeit that during the staging of the event nothing was reported to any such event having taken place.

Long admired as the masters of the glorious game Brazil was viewed as one of the prohibitive favorites for the tournament alongside Spain , France , Italy and Argentina . The United States coached by Bob Bradley were seen as one the outsiders that very well have been in a position to pull off a major upset. Though not endowed with a world class outfielder they did however possess one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Tim Howard . The player himself makes his home in the rough and tumble world of the ultra competitive English Premier League (EPL) in England. Other than Howard the face of US soccer over the last decade has been their multi faceted and well respected striker Landon Donovan who played alongside former English international David Beckham for the Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS here in the United States.

Both England and the US were drawn in the grouping for the divisional round (Group C) of the tournament and I was of the opinion that while both countries qualified on merit I could see neither going beyond the quarter finals of the competition. Neither team was really endowed with a great deal of talent and that’s in spite of the jingoistic fervor being shown by the domiciled US fans whose broad base and knowledge of the game of soccer ranks up there alongside Sarah Palin’s geopolitical knowledge when it comes to world affairs. It’s safe to say that when a US fan is trying to tell you that the US’s offensive capabilities are vast based on the fact that other than Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan’s international experience , then I’ve truly got to ask the question why the interest ? It’s not as if the game itself has found a long term foothold amongst the masses. US Soccer President Sunil K Gulati and MLS Commissioner Don Garber are still struggling to get the game to resonate with the fans domestically. Broad based coverage of the MLS domestic league are as such scheduled around the wishes of ABC/ESPN to televise the games as and when they see fit and the appeal of the teams playing in the chosen fixtures. The talent is still developing and one would be naive to think that the US is now a major powerhouse on the international soccer stage. Gaining respect, albeit in small steps , nonetheless their showing in the tournament was filled with some success but it all ended too briefly merely from the fact that as a team they were lacking creativity on offense and in the midfield where much of the work needs to be done in order to be effective. they showed little signs of real creativity. Think of it as Brady marshaling his teammates as they seek a third or fourth down in the red zone .

The plight of the English team was certainly no better and the complacency showed in the true lack of effort by not only the players but also on the part team coach Fabio Capello and his coaching staff. To add insult to injury Capello left off his final squad the talented young striker and midfield player Theo Walcott who the coach described as ill equipped to deal with the rigors of international play. Bearing in mind that Walcott had been performing well for his club side (Arsenal) in the Premiership (EPL) I found the coach’s statement completely asinine and without merit ! But somehow he found time to include a veteran such as Peter Crouch whose best years were far behind him. It’s no wonder that once the wheels on the bus started to deflate no amount of excuse could be made for the poor showing of the team in the World Cup. Thankfully the woes of both England and the US team weren’t as embarrassing as that of the heavily favored French squad that argued vehemently with and against their coach leading to dissent after their lackluster effort in a game (2-1 loss) against South Africa . The internal turmoil would not end there with one player being sent home after his profanity laced attack against the coach. Overnight this became a PR disaster of seismic proportions for the French Soccer Federation as well as the French government whose Health and Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot offered her sincere apologies to the South African government and to FIFA after the televised events that took placed involving coach Raymond Domeneche and several French players. The French squad would soon exit the tournament with their tails between their legs after their unmitigated disaster in failing to qualify for the latter rounds of the Word Cup.

Teams who were excelling as the tournament progressed , did so by sticking to a game plan and playing with a great deal of dexterity. The raucous crowds attending the games came from all corners of the globe and with many of them having found a new to toy for their accompaniment in creating a cacophony of noise …………..the vuvuzelas became the instrument that would create some uproar amongst the purists of the game. South African natives themselves are use to the noise created by the instrument and it has become a way of life with the regards to their use at sporting events be they small or large.

Holland , Germany , Spain and Brazil would excel over the course of the tournament but once it became clear that the Brazilian team wasn’t what many had come to expect, their fate was soon to be sealed. In large part that was due to complacency in taking lightly the challenge of opponents who they thought were beneath them. The World Cup Final itself pitted Spain , the number two ranked team in the world at the time against their European counterparts Holland . And after ninety excruciating painful minutes of regular play the game went into overtime. Rarely were there any really scintillating moments throughout the game and the thirty minutes of overtime proved to be fateful as Spain’s Andres Iniesta would prove to be his country’s hero in scoring the only goal ( 1-0 result) that would lead his side to winning their first World Cup title. A billion followers of the sport of soccer can’t be wrong but I do feel that this event while proving to be a success in terms of its staging on the African continent for the very first time , it somehow left little to suggest that the game itself can take a real foothold here in the United States. The final game itself while creating some suspense it was on the whole something of a boring event in of-itself. While no doubt Dutch and Spanish fans may well wholeheartedly disagree with my statement , I can’t help but wonder if they had it do all over again would they willingly sit and watch that events unfold in front of them given that they knew what the end result would be ?

It’d be safe to say that the events surrounding Tiger Woods’ fall from grace would play a significant part to his season on the PGA Tour in `2010. Woods for all of his sexual dalliances , inappropriate behavior and his then less than contrite apology simply dug himself a whole that not even Harry Houdini could’ve escaped from. Far be it for me to say but Tiger Woods’ performances on the PGA Tour circuit lacked all the drama we’d come to expect from the world’s top golfer. If anything there was more excitement to be had in listening to the ingenues who came forward to state that they had sex with the player. From escorts to , hostesses and porn stars , females came out of the woodwork like termites from a piece of rotting wood. And along the way many of them parlayed their notoriety to gain some financial well being . Rachel Uchitel and Jamie Jungers were but a few who made their stories public and if you just happen to curious enough and something of a voyeur then in due course there will be sexually explicit movie detailing Woods’ exploits that will be marketed by one of his paramours through the distributor and purveyor of adult entertainment _____ Vivid Entertainment . Curious to see whether not the actor portraying Woods will be using as much wood as he laid to those noted conquests ? ‘Four …….. nine iron being used ‘.

Fourteen Majors and some seventy plus wins worldwide and it’s easy to see why Woods has been the most dominant golfer over the last decade plus and of his generation. A career Grand Slam and all the acclaim in the world made him the marketer’s dream , and the titans of Madison Ave in conjunction with international sports management agency IMG made Woods the most marketable athlete on the planet , the first to earn $1 billion ($1,000,000,000) in endorsements and career earnings. And when you’ve made that sort of ‘bank’ you probably do feel impervious and would like to think that you can do anything possible. What Woods seemed to forget is that there’s a cause and effect , for every action there is a reaction. It was only a matter of time before the veil came down on the charade that has been Tiger Woods’ persona. And it’s asinine to think that Woods tried to apportion much of the blame on the media after the sordid allegations became public knowledge ! What the hell did he actually think was going to happen , he’d be given a free pass ? Nigga’ please ?

Winless on the Tour in 2010, Woods’ play veered from at times being brilliant to downright horrendous over the course of the year, in which we saw him withdraw from The Players’ Championship and could only garner two top ten finishes in any of the four Majors (The Masters , The PGA Championship , US Open and The British Open ), with that occurring in The Masters and U S Open where in both cases he finished joint tied four fourth place. Uncharacteristically also Woods would withdraw The Players Championship held at the TPC Sawgrass , Ponte Vedre Beach, Florida.

Tiger Woods would also lose his world number one ranking as he would be passed by Englishman , Lee Westwood atop of the World Rankings . Westwood has yet to win a Major but he’s been very consistent worldwide on the PGA and European Tour events.Woods’ goals no doubt for 2011 will be regain the form that saw him with regularity on the Tour and at the same time refocus his efforts on being a better human being and a parent. As to whether or not he can surpass his idol Jack Nicklaus , garner the four Majors needs to equal Jack’s feat and then add another to make it nineteen, remains to be seen. He’s still young enough to do it but it now all comes down to his will and composure as to whether or not he can achieve that feat.

The Ryder Cup notwithstanding Tiger Woods’ contributions on the PGA Tour in 2010 can be best described as being mediocre . But to others at the lower end of the totem pole on the Tour I bet at times they wouldn’t mind being in Woods’ position without the sexual pecadilos I might add and all of the intrusiveness of the paparazzi that comes along with it !

I’ve never been really much of NASCAR fan , way too many left turns ! And what the hell might I ask is boogity , boogity boogity ? Is that some sort of dumb ass ‘Redneck speak’ for I’ve got a hard on for Lil’ E ? Speaking of which can someone remember the last time that Dale Earnhardt Jr won a Sprint Cup Series race ? I guess not ! He’s way too overpaid for what modicum of talent he does have. For an unprecedented fifth consecutive year Jimmie Johnson has won the Sprint Cup Series Championship and along the way seemingly create an even greater divide between himself and his peers. The only drivers now ahead him with more titles on the sport’s pre-eminent circuit are Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt Sr . Seven to be precise, is the total held by each of these all-time greats within the sport and it remains only a matter of time and the desire shown by Johnson if he chooses to emanate or even surpass those feats.

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The unfortunate thing here is that the sport has now reached its maturation point and whereas viewership and attendances are on the decline , the fan appreciation of Johnson’s feat isn’t being appreciated by all. Other than his own following I truly doubt that the vast majority of NASCAR fans like the guy to begin with ! It’s been suggested that Johnson has no character , he’s not really affable or he’s simply not rambunctious enough. Screw that ., the guy simply wins and he’s begun to make a habit with an ever increasing consistency ! As to NASCAR’s own hierarchy led by Brian France and Mike Helton , though they’ve now got a dominant face for their sport they’re still all too reliant Dale Earnhardt Jr to be the face that arguably reigns over their sport. Far be it for me to suggest but when you simply have a guy who of late has shown marginal talent at best in the practice of his craft, then why the hell is there a need to have him as the face of your sport ? You’ve got the most dominant driver of this era now within your midst and he’s garnering about as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield jokingly said he could attain being a comic. What’s up with that ?

This now ends part two of this two part series concerning my own sporting observations concerning some the events that took place across the landscape of sports during 2010 . What events if any caught your attention over this calendar year and what wishes if any would you like see take place in 2011 as an event ? Simply chime in with a comment and thanks as always for the continued support !

NB: Pacaquiao’s scheduled bout against Mosley is due to take place at the MGM Grand Casino & Resort in Las Vegas , Nevada on the 7th May 2011 .

Auriemma’s U Conn Huskies’ team had their winning streak snapped at 89 by the Stanford Cardinals team . The Lady Cardinals were in fact that the last team to beat U Conn in 2008.

NB: Click in the link provided to read Part 1 of this two part series . https://abritishman.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/2010-was-a-great-year-in-some-sports-and-in-some-ways-it-was-also-an-unmitigated-disaster/

Alan aka tophatal ………………………….


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Golf, PGA, Ryder Cup, Sports

And No Not Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining !


And No Not Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining !

There is nothing gallant about losing when the quest itself could have been avoided had the right preparations been in place for the team to actually strive for a win. But now these are and will be the rather asinine stories that will be written about the so called ‘gallant and bravura effort’ put forth by the US Ryder Cup team after their loss of the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Golf Course in Newport, Wales , this past weekend. Rain delays prolonged the play wherein the singles matches were actually played on Monday instead of on Sunday on what was effectively had been a three day event being turned into a four day event.

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Slide show for your perusal.

Coming into the final day of the contest the format was for the four balls to be completed and for the singles match-ups to be played with the Europeans holding a 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 point lead over the US team. And for opposing captains Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin this was all about determining whether or not their strategies would reap the dividends in the match-ups made in these finals singles matches. A great deal of criticism has been leveled at Pavin and his handling of this US team and much of it has stemmed from the fact that so many of his players were rookies and all but one player had a winning record in the Ryder Cup format. That in of-itself would prove to be something of a crucial disadvantage for the team and no matter how one spins it the motivation and leadership expected from seasoned veterans such as Jim Furyk , Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods simply wasn’t there to make this competition worth remembering or a worthwhile endeavor on the part of the Americans.

Now the writers and US commentators covering this event will have us believe that this was by all means a gallant effort by this US team. But in all actuality nothing could be further from the truth . Albeit that there was some inspirational play by Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler in their singles matches, the writing was already on the wall in terms of the inevitable outcome of the event. While the Europeans’ lead wasn’t an insurmountable one , you simply knew that all they had to do was to retain that lead and then eke out the points needed to make the victory secure. Needing only to obtain 5 points out of a possible 12 to win back the Ryder Cup , Colin Montgomerie’s team went about their task diligently while the support of the European fans were there in droves to show their support for their hometown heroes.

Now while there has been criticism being leveled about both teams in the past as to the unsportsmanlike conduct in previous events this series of matches throughout this tournament has been played with a great deal chivalry by both sides. However one got the feeling that this US team could have done with a bit of boisterous support and some true grit being shown by not only their supporters but also from a number of players on this team. Instead what we got to see were but a few brief moments of heroics before this team succumbed to the inevitable and then with unabashed shame we saw the emotions of Hunter Mahan come to fruition , wherein he took responsibility for the team’s loss having not been able to secure a point in the finals’ singles match that would have led to Team USA retaining the Ryder Cup.

When it’s all said and done this wasn’t about how the Cup was lost but the fact that this US team wasn’t at all good enough for the task at hand. Although the spin-meisters will be in full swing trying to point out that this was a gallant effort by the team having come so close with the final margin of victory being a mere 1 point (14 1/2 – 13 1/2) the truth of the matter was the Europeans were expected to win and win they did.

Now in 2012 the Ryder Cup is due to be played in the United States at Medinah G&C, outside Chicago , Illinois___ and it will be interesting to see whether or not any changes will be made by the PGA as to how the US team is actually made up and what sort of input is made by the team captain as to who his alternatives will be . This much we do know Phil Mickelson’s record in the Ryder up format is not one to be admired as he now has the dubious distinction of having lost more games overall and has the worst points’ total of any American who has ever represented a US team as a member. And all this from the supposed number two player in the world ? This kind of puts into perspective the idiocy shown by such analysts as they sought to make light of this by pointing out what a tremendous effort was put forth by this team. Well there was little here to feel proud of , given the fact that there was no leadership forthcoming from the seasoned veterans on this team and a captain who for all sense and purpose who was completely out of his depth. But hey , this is the sort of stuff that the writers and analysts will tend to harp on about rather than trying to point out the reasons for the failures of a team . And you tend get the distinct impression that in reality the US are ”sore losers” when it comes to team sports where their dominance comes into question .

Now while the Europeans will bask in the glory of having won back the Ryder Cup in home soil at the same time you get the feeling that they will be out to rigorously defend the trophy in 2012 . The chances are that by then the US team in place to challenge for the trophy will be one that no doubt will be more determined to play with a great deal of pride and honor as to the thought of representing their country. It had been long maintained that a number of US players felt that this particular team event wasn’t a worthwhile cause because there was no prize money to be earned . But at the same time it is these same players who are now preening themselves like Cheshire cats at the mere thought that they will get the chance to participate in the Summer Olympics when the game makes a welcome return to the grandest of all stages in front of a worldwide audience of billions. Makes you wonder what all the fuss has been about doesn’t it ?

From my own perspective I do feel that while the biennial event has its followers and its popularity remains intact. It can only remain this way if the level of competition that goes with it is of the highest order . Over the years the level of commitment appears to be there but the telling ingredient that at times seems to be missing is that the play of the teams can either be exhilarating or just plain mediocre. Here it was a little of both with a certain amount of naivete and false bravado being shown by US team captain Corey Pavin as his team was convincingly outplayed from start to finish. History may well show that Pavin captained this team but what it will not show any in great detail are the mistakes that he made strategically. This cloud certainly didn’t have a silver lining and about the only thing did may well have been the rainbow that shone in part after the torrents of rain that fell over the Celtic Manor course that essentially dampened the ardor of the US team and its resolve in trying to retain the Ryder Cup.

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Picture gallery for your perusal. By clicking on each frame you can view the picture in its original format.

Your thoughts if any on how the US team lost the Ryder Cup and do you feel that there needs to be a change in the format as to how the players are selected for the US team ? Criticism was leveled at Corey Pavin for having so many rookies on the team and the fact that only one player on the squad had a winning record in this type of format. Simply chime in with a comment as to your opinions if any on the event itself or perhaps the sport of golf in general .

NB Click on the links below to see the profiles of the respective teams and details for the 2012 Ryder Cup event .

Team Europe

Team USA

Player results at the 2010 Ryder Cup …..

Ryder Cup 2012 …..

Alan aka tophatal …………………………..

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Courtesy of Smooth Magazine …….. Stephanie