POST-RETIREMENT ARTICLE IV
I havenít written a website article in several months. I decided to do one just to keep in shape. This article will include takes on all six of my favorite sports.
Many if not most boxing experts feel Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest pound-for-pound fighter who ever lived. Henry Armstrong just might be the greatest fighter ever, having owned three weight division belts at the very same time when there were only seven to be had, an incredibly amazing feat.
I have followed Manny Pacquiao for several years. I believe Pacquiao is the fastest pound-for-pound fighter Iíve ever seen, both with hands and feet, and with great power in his punches as well. Combine all this with his ability to take a solid punch to his face or body. It makes me think of him as a small version of Ali. Heís sensational! My sports friends here in Vegas will attest to the fact that Iíve put my money where my mouth is in his last several fights. On March 13, Pacquiao, winner of seven weight division belts in his career, a record that could and should stand forever, will be fighting another great, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., the latter having never been beaten.
I believe Manny can beat Mayweather. I have one reservation, and that is the fact that Pacquiao has his sights set on politics in his native Philippines. That concerns me, and itís the only reason why Iíll lay a smaller amount than usual on him in the ďfight for the agesĒ on March 13. I've seen one betting line on the fight already. As I suspected, and I'm pleased to note, Mayweather opened at one book here in Vegas the favorite at -135, with Pacquiao the dog at +115. That's fine with me. For a change, it appears I'll get the better of the odds line with Manny, but it's too early to bet it.
If Pacquaio, now the Welterweight champ, having demolished Miguel Cotto for that belt on November 14, is on his game, I firmly believe heís too fast for Mayweather. Although Floyd is conceivably more powerful at the 147-pound maximum weight for Mannyís Welterweight belt, Pacquiao will win IF his mind is truly in the ring and not in the Philippines political arena.
PS: Within the past 10 minutes, I heard on ESPN that the March 13th. date for the big fight is off. I suspect their squabbles will be ironed out, and that March 13 will become real again very soon. These guys aren't crazy. This fight will set an all-time record for revenue, ticket take and pay-per-view included. Rematch anyone?!
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Iím sick of it! The rich get richer. The lack of a salary cap doesnít guarantee a World Series win for teams with a $175-$200 million dollar payroll. However, it virtually guarantees the fact that teams that donít spend lots of money on player rosters will not win. Sure, every so often a Rays or a Marlins will refute this logic, but they are an aberration. Large market teams with lots of inhabitants that generate great big, lucrative television revenue have a decided advantage over teams that might as well be playing in Fargo.
Two years ago, Alex Rodriguez drew more money in salary (with $6 million bucks to spare) than did the entire roster of the Florida Marlins, the latter with its mediocre revenue from attendance and television. There are many teams in this ominous grouping. Of the 30 MLB teams, I count seven that have a legitimate and financial shot at the 2010 World Series championship, and thatís all. The rich will continue to get richer. Thereís an old adage that thereís power in numbers. Itís true. But when it comes to major league baseball, thereís more power in money!
Now for the subject of free agency. Most of the Fort Knox free agents of today donít have a clue as to why this financial windfall is happening to them. All of them should have a picture of Curt Flood, framed in 18k gold, hanging in their family rooms, and if you donít know the meaning of this sentence, please refer to my feature story on Flood dated 1-3-2002. Curt Flood is the most valuable player to ever wear a baseball uniform. Unfortunately, he proved valuable to everyone but himself. Read my article; youíll then understand what I mean.
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
The Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA's most valuable team, and 12 franchises lost money in the 2008-09 season, according to Forbes magazine, posted December 9th. In its annual listing of the value of NBA franchises, Forbes finds the Lakers to be worth $607 million, up 4 percent for the league champions. Second are the New York Knicks at $586 million, but that is a 4 percent drop. The Knicks led the rankings for the four previous seasons The Chicago Bulls ($511 million), Detroit Pistons ($479 million) and Cleveland Cavaliers ($476 million) round out the top five.
At the bottom of the 30-team rankings are the Milwaukee Bucks at $254 million. The league average worth is $367 million, down 4 percent, according to Forbes. The teams losing money in the last 12 months are the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, New Jersey Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks.
Teams' average operating income was $7.8 million, with the Lakers at the top with $51.1 million, just ahead of the Bulls at $51 million. Portland's value has increased the most, by 10 percent, while the Kings and Grizzlies each have dropped the most, by 13 percent.
NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
As a St. Louis native, although having lived in several other cities during my 70 years, I was one of the Bluesí first season ticket holders in their í67-í68 expansion year. As Iíve written in earlier articles, the Blues were one of the first six expansion teams in the NHL, joining the six veteran teams. In order to make the league interesting to the six new franchises, they had their own division and the playoff winner of that division fought the winner of the veteran division for the anti-climactic Stanley Cup series in the Spring of 1968. The Blues played the Montreal Canadians in that series, and although they lost four straight, they lost all four games by just one goal, and two of the games went into overtime. Thatís the last time the Blues made it to the Stanley Cup finals.
The President of Blues operations for the last several years (since June 30, 2006) is John Davidson. Davidson was a great goalie for the Blues and New York Rangers, and an equally exceptional broadcaster for the Rangers following his playing career. The Blues under his watch of 3Ĺ years remain the mediocre franchise Iíve come to expect down through the years. In fact, mediocre is the perfect word to describe the Blues under Davidson; their won-lost record of 124-124 is exactly .500 at this writing, and that is perfect mediocrity. I just donít see John Davidson making the Blues a threat to the Stanley Cup title anytime soon. I hope Iím wrong, but Iím not. Where is Scotty Bowman when we need him?!
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
I traveled the New Orleans area for several years in my business days. I love the city. It is one of the most fun venues in existence. The people are great. The Katrina catastrophe made the Saints all the more important to the city as the people there needed and still need the Saints for hope and inspiration as the Katrina aftermath still lingers. I have become a Saints fan, and have been pulling for the Saints for the last many years. At this writing, there is every reason to believe the Saints will have home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. But Iím not all that excited about it.
Why? Because there are three phases of football that should be emphasized. The Saintsí offense is the reason the team is there; itís great! However, the other two phases of the Saintsí game are extremely suspect, namely defense and special teams. The Saints rank near the top in positive turnover ratio; that, too, is great! But they give up far too many points and far too many yards. Offense is beautiful, but ya gotta have superior defense and special teams along with offense to get to and win the Super Bowl. Unless the Saints buckle up and improve those two areas, my favorite team ainít gonna make it this year.
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME
Now for my sixth and favorite sport, even at 70. Itís primarily an indoor sport, but not necessarily. It absolutely requires a teammate who wants to perform well, and enjoys doing so. The latter is crucial to the scoring and outcome of the event. After great thought on the subject (there are several possible choices), the person Iíd most like to enjoy the game with, the person Iíd most like to have as my teammate, is Shannon Elizabeth. Shannon would be my top draft choice, and I'd gladly trade up to get her.