Articles

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.

An exultant Juan Manuel Marquez raised his hands in triumph while Manny Pacquiao prayed somberly in the corner. Then, after it was announced that Marquez had lost by a narrow majority decision, he stormed from the ring as the arena of Mexican partisans and outraged boxing fans rained boos on the winner.

Today’s stars may look up to him, but Jordan isn’t interested in being anyone’s mentor. He’s mostly concerned with making sure none of them approach his accomplishments.

This is the flipside to sports, and to fandom’s projection of a million wants into one body at one moment in time.  As heroes go up, so must many come down.   Call it the Mike Tyson effect.

For many years there were two NBA video games that battled for supremacy each fall: the NBA 2K series from 2K Sports, and the NBA Live series from EA Sports. Each franchise had fans, but there was no clear winner — no Madden, as it were. This proved healthy: both publishers were driven to innovate in an attempt to capture whatever unclaimed market share existed.