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I was shocked when Antonio Margarito was caught attempting to place plaster inserts into his hand wraps before his 2009 welterweight title fight with Shane Mosley. No matter what the cranks tell you, things like that don’t happen at the highest levels of the sport. I was shocked, but I wasn’t surprised that the exception was Antonio Margarito.

In the middle of the ring, Eddie Kingston is crying, like full-body-heave sobbing. The blonde woman hugging him is crying, too. Kingston has just become the first-ever Grand Champion of Chikara Pro Wrestling, a Philly-based indie company that bravely and quixotically went for nearly a decade without naming a central champion.

Even if one wants to feel a genial non-interfering positivity or salutary indifference toward Tim Tebow and his “testimony,” the frequency and intensity with which it’s invoked by NFL Network and ESPN makes it intolerable. By week 14, Skip Bayless will be berating some poor Archbishop about their “beatification bias.”

After nine games and countless jokes about the Dream Team becoming a nightmare, the Philadelphia Eagles have firmly established themselves as the biggest disappointment of the NFL season. Perhaps more surprising than their 3-6 record, though, is that Michael Vick hasn’t even been the most electrifying player on the team.

This was not how it was supposed to go. Not at all. My first piece for The Classical should’ve been about something like The Rise Of Monta Ellis instead of a mewling whine-fest about The Seemingly Permanent Absence Of My Favorite Sport That I Am Now On The Hook To Write About Because You Guys Gave Us A Lot Of Money To Start This Site.  But I’m not the one locking out the players, so this is where I’m living right now.

Rob Mitchum

 et al.

Every couple weeks in the Science Bureau, licensed scienticians Dr. Lawyer Indian Chief and Rob Mitchum will excavate the most interesting findings from this deep quarry, reporting on what the scientific method can reveal about the world of sports beyond the naked eye.

9:45 PM, 23 October 2011. Auckland, New Zealand. It’s half-time in the final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. All around the country, people are wondering the same thing: If New Zealand stages a highly successful World Cup and the All Blacks lose in the final, what the hell are we going to do?

It took Junior dos Santos 64 seconds to claim the UFC heavyweight title from Cain Velasquez on Saturday night. The punch that took it was a well-timed and even more well-placed overhand right that left Velasquez effectively defenseless. MMA is not a sport that easily lends itself to comebacks. Abrupt endings are inevitable when a 240-pound man wants badly enough to make you unconscious.

This is an intellectually worthless exercise in any sport, but one which in baseball lays bare the sport’s deep and abiding strangeness, too often naturalized beyond recognition through pastoral platitudes and kid’s-menu jingoism. I, for one, cannot wait.

I cut the line to get this picture taken after running the New York City Marathon last week, my second 26-miler of 2011. Eighteen months ago, I was not running marathons. Mostly, I was smoking cigarettes. For a solid decade before I quit, I was one of the world’s great smokers—naturally talented, fiercely committed, a real workhorse.