Archive for February, 2010

How Do I Know That You’re Lying? Easy — Your Lips Are Moving

Posted in MLB Baseball, News/Current Events, Rants, Ro-Sham-Bo Award, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by thelasthonestman

That’s it?  The month is over already?  It will be, at least by the time we reach Monday.  February has always been my least favorite month, its brevity only being one of those reasons.  It’s cold, it’s dreary, and its devoid of most sporting activities: football season is over, baseball season hasn’t started yet, I don’t care much about hockey, and basketball doesn’t really start catching my interest until we get to March Madness and the NBA Playoffs.

However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot of news about those out-of-season sports making the headlines anyway.  While I plan to address the NFL labor situation at some point next week, for now I’ll aim my daggers at a big story from the baseball world, where Mark McGwire is apparently unhappy with his estranged brother’s decision to publish a book that details his use of performing-enhancing drugs.

Pardon me if I don’t bring out the crying towel in a show of sympathy for the embattled former slugger.  Jay McGwire’s  book, “Mark and Me: Mark McGwire and the Truth Behind Baseball’s Worst-Kept Secret”, is scheduled for publication this Monday, and in it the younger brother of the one-time season HR king debunks McGwire’s claims that his steroid use was only to recover from injuries, and not to enhance his performance.  McGwire is apparently saddened by this, and he’s been quick to remind us that Jay McGwire’s claims aren’t the truth, and again, that he only used steroids to recover from injuries and not to enhance his performance in any way.

Mark McGwire explaining how his steroid use had no effect on his performance, and how it only was used to recover from injury

Well, we’ve heard this tripe before — in the form of  similar wishful fabrications from the other steroid cheats of the era who’ve been brought under the microscope, like Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro, and others — and as usual, my only wish would be for someone to stick a towel in someone’s mouth, because I’m just tired of people like McGwire who find it incapable of simply telling the truth, for better or worse.

We all know that your performance was aided by the use of steroids. You do — I do — Tony LaRussa did — your brother did — Jose Canseco did — anyone who’s paid even the slightest bit of attention to the medical revelations over the years as to what steroids give to an athlete and how they help them to gain an advantage over fellow competitors knows.

McGwire wants us to feel sorry for him, he wants us to feel like he was some sort of a victim here, but he’s not at allthe game of baseball was the victim from self-serving, selfish people like McGwire who put their own goals and wishes above what was right and what was for the good of the game.  We’re supposed to believe that he had no choice, that the culture of the game demanded that he join in with the crowd on the steroid path because “everyone else was doing it”?  What a crock — we wouldn’t listen to that sort of lame of excuse if it were coming from our children while sitting in the principal’s office, but we’re supposed to go along with the idea that adults like McGwire and his contemporaries had no other option but to follow the crowd?

What makes that defense the most ludicrous is that there were those did show some backbone — and they were the ones — or as it’s looking more and more like, the few — who chose to stay away from the temptation of steroids.  Frank Thomas did.  Ken Griffey, Jr. was another one — despite the fact that, for the entire second half of his career, he battled numerous career-hindering injuries along the way.  You want me to feel sorry for someone — then how about those guys who did it the right way, who didn’t let the temptation of millions of dollars and the glory of the public lead them into adapting a “whatever it takes” mantra — but who are going to be forever soiled by the guilt of association they have to bear for the failings of others.

Is Jay McGwire a good guy here?  Of course, not — but in a sense he’s doing exactly what his brother did: he’s doing something not prohibited by the current law to make himself some extra green, get his face into the news, and better himself and his own situation — even if it’s not the right thing to do, morally or ethically, and even if it means he takes advantage of someone else along the way.  For Mark McGwire to find this behavior troubling shows that, even while he may not understand what the word “truth” means, he does show a nice grasp of hypocrisy.

In the meantime, until he’s ready to actually come completely clean and to admit that he knew exactly what he was doing when he was on the juice, and that he knew exactly how much his passing of Roger Maris in 1998 was due to that steroid use (just as one example), then my sincere hope is that McGwire just learns to say “no comment” again and shut the hell up.  He’s not doing himself any favors with his continuing efforts to try and play us all for buffoons with short-memories and a propensity to forgive.

Must ... remember ... B.S. ... excuses ...

It’s been pretty obvious that McGwire’s sudden conversion to telling the “truth” at all was a result of his horrible Hall Of Fame voting totals he’s received since he’s been eligible on the ballot, as well as the cold shoulder that the game itself has given him since his embarrassing performance on Capitol Hill.  Not surprisingly, given everything else he’s done to this point, his recent admissions have been — like his steroid use during his playing days — self-serving, first and foremost.  His goal, I’m sure, is to try and work himself back into the good graces of those who vote for Cooperstown — but for now, he’ll have to settle for a well-deserved Ro-Sham-Bo Award instead (for which, thankfully, no drug testing is required).  Enjoy it, Mark — if there’s any justice, that’s all you’ll ever end up ever getting.

Some People Need A Refresher Course On The Term “Hero”

Posted in News/Current Events, Rants with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by thelasthonestman

In the aftermath of Joseph Stack’s suicide attack into the IRS building in Austin last week, it’s not surprising to see fringe elements of the population celebrating the actions of a clearly disturbed individual; that type of radical, divisive reaction is exactly why groups in the anti-government survivalist movement or the white supremacists, for example (who have already taken to calling Stack a “hero” for what his terrorist act last Thursday) are exactly that:  “fringe elements” of society.

But what’s more surprising — and disturbing — is than any others might be falling in line with that line of thinking.  But there are some, unfortunately, who are.  Stack’s daughter — not surprisingly — called her father a “hero” during a “Good Morning America” interview after the incident, though she has since backtracked on that statement in public interviews.  A Facebook page started in Stack’s honors shortly afterward had added over 2,000 members (though in the grand scheme of things, that number is proportionally almost nothing compared to our overall population).  What’s most concerning to me is the number of people I’ve seen say — whether in print, in person, or on the air — that “what Stack did was wrong … but …”

No, no, no.  There is no “but”.  What Stack did was a violent, unnecessary, and cowardly act that has no defense, and no excuse.  It doesn’t matter if anything he said or believed is or was true, and it doesn’t matter if anything that happened to him along the way was unjustified or not — there’s a right way to go about things, and attempted murder of other innocent people isn’t one of them.

I’m in no way a defender of our government’s behavior in these troubling times.  And I’m sure no one hates seeing the amount of money that gets taken out of a paycheck for taxes more than I do.  But such are the realities of the world we live in, and there’s a way to address the wrongs of our country and our world — but it’s not by killing yourself and trying to kill others to make a statement.  There’s a place to make a statement — and it’s at the ballot box in November.  We all have our chance to make a difference — and that’s by holding our elected officials to higher standards that we should expect them to have, but which have been missing in our elected officials for far too long.  Hold them accountable to actually do their jobs — to work with one another in the best interests of the populations they serve, rather than working for themselves and the special interests and donors that backed them at the expense of their constituents.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Math teacher David Benke with police after tackling a gunman during a school shooting

And for all of the people who are using the word “hero” to describe Stack?  Look around you — because not only are you butchering the language by your misrepresentation of the word, but in the process, you’re missing some real-life heroes elsewhere along the way that deserve you accolades a whole lot more.  Like math teacher David Benke, for example.   Benke  is being described as a hero today because he actually did something heroic — he tackled a gunman at Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado yesterday afternoon, risking his own life but saving who knows how many others in the process.  Only two students were wounded in the attack, but if not for Benke’s bravery — and that of a second, unnamed teacher who helped to pin the gunman to the ground until help could arrive — the carnage at the school could have been far worse.

Benke risked his life to save people, Stack forfeited his own to try and kill them.  If you can’t tell the difference between the two, then you’ll never understand what the word “hero” actually means.

So Much To Do, And So Little Time

Posted in Personal with tags on February 22, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Is it a bad sign that, after being up since 5:30 this morning and having worked on various projects for almost two hours already, I still feel like I’m way behind on the day?

It can’t be a good sign, that’s for certain.  But for whatever it’s worth, it’s where I find myself on this Monday morning.  With the beginning of baseball season — and my participation in numerous fantasy baseball leagues (all of which I have a reputation to defend) requiring a great deal of my attention during the spring — the months of February and March are always exceptionally busy ones for me.  But this year seems even more so — due in no small part to my oft-mentioned home renovation requiring a ton of my time; this weekend, for example, in addition to my uncle’s funeral that I attended, I spent two solid days and nights extensively remodeling just one bedroom.  That was me (and my wife and father-in-law) scraping down and re-texturing the ceiling, repainting the entire room, installing closet shelves and a new closet light fixture, caulking, more painting, installing closet doors — both Saturday and Sunday were easily sixteen hour days for us — by the time I went to sleep, exhausted, last night, I was seeing paint swatches in my dreams.

What that means for the blog is, that instead of the five-to-six day a week update schedule I’ve been keeping (or trying to keep) for the last several months, this next week is going to to be a little lighter in content — there’s simply too much for me to have to catch up on in the next couple of days (one of which, may be my sleep).  Don’t despair, though — we won’t be going on hiatus anytime soon — I have too many useless opinions still to vent for that to happen.

Now, if you excuse me  — there’s a broom and a dustpan that are calling to me.  I’ll see you back here again towards the middle of the week.

Wrapping Up The Week That Was

Posted in News/Current Events, Personal, Sports, The Wrapups with tags , , , , , on February 19, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Between my battle with the flu and my longer-than-expected look back at the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson fight from 1990, there wasn’t a lot of time this week for much else — but that’s what Fridays are for, right?

— My thoughts this week will be brief, as I have a wake to attend to tonight and the funeral tomorrow of one of my uncles who passed away yesterday.   This uncle was the husband of my aunt who had passed away almost a year ago exactly (I talked about it then here and here), and he’s going to be missed greatly by us all.

I’ve attended far too many funerals lately — such is the case when you’re one of the younger members of a very large family — and as I usually do at these times, I question my own place in the world and wonder about my own mortality.  As always, the lesson for me is to live every day as if it’s my last and with no regrets — and hope I make the world a little better place at the end of that day than it was when it started.  My late uncle certainly did that, and we were all better for having had him in our lives as a result.

— The big news story from yesterday was the suicide attack of  Texas man Joseph Stack,  in which he flew a small plane into the Echelon building in Austin, home to almost 200 IRS employees.  Stark had apparently had problems with the IRS over the years, and the attack — which so far has taken only the life of Stack himself — appears to have been directed at them.

Obviously, no matter what Stack’s problems might have been — whether real or imagined — his course of action was reprehensible.  I noticed that his rambling “manifesto” — a six-page letter detailing all of his grievances — was being posted in its entirety on a number of news web sites, including MSN’s, as of yesterday.  My question is a simple one — why?  Even if there’s a kernel of truth in anything he said, why would any news organization give a platform to a terrorist (and that’s exactly what Stack’s action makes him)?  In doing so, all these news organizations are doing is adding fuel to the fire of the next person to try something similar, comfortable they will be in the knowledge that a violent act at innocents will result in their “message” gaining a widespread, national audience.  Better for such messages to be tossed into the fire where they belong instead.

— Today’s other big news was the press conference by Tiger Woods — and if someone can tell me what the point was supposed to be behind it, I’d sure like to know.  Woods doesn’t owe anyone an apology for his actions — except for his wife and family — and maybe his sponsors.  His behavior was certainly reprehensible enough, but he didn’t say anything today that anyone in the public eye needed to hear — or that surprised anyone in the slightest (if he had come out today and said instead, “Screw it — I’m rich and famous and plan on getting as much tail as I can in the future” — then it would have been noteworthy).

Today’s press conference — with no questions allowed — was a sham and little more than a carefully, crafted public statement.  The only thing that might have been of interest to the sporting world would have been if Woods had announced a upcoming return to the Tour.  Instead we got a whole lot of nothing — and a waste of time for anyone who bothered watching.

— That’s it for my abbreviated take — I’ll be back on Monday.  Enjoy the upcoming weekend.

The Greatest Boxing Upset Of All Time, Part Three

Posted in Boxing, Sports with tags , , , , on February 18, 2010 by thelasthonestman

If you missed either Part One or Part Two, they can be found here and here.

It took only one round of Tyson-Douglas for me to realize that I might be watching something special unfold that night.

It was a briskly-paced first round, with Douglas giving Tyson just enough lateral movement to keep the champion off-balance and — what was the bigger surprise — the challenger snapping off one crisp, powerful jab after another into Tyson’s face.  Douglas’ hands were quick — much more so than they’d been in his title effort against Tony Tucker — and his demeanor was determined.  It wasn’t the Douglas I’d expected to see — nor I suspect was it the one Tyson had expected to face either.

Tyson had seemed off his game the entire time he’d been in Tokyo, actually getting floored briefly by sparring partner (and former alphabet titlist) Greg Page during training.  Tyson’s camp downplayed the knockdown, but the footage of it that was replayed on the local telecasts was still shocking to the boxing public that saw the champion as virtually invincible.  Still, it gave more credibility to the idea that perhaps, if the right challenger came along, Tyson might be beaten.  But not by Douglas — no, no one thought that.  Except the challenger himself.

When the 1st round had ended, I had turned to my father and said, “At least it’s going to go more than a round.”  Douglas had looked good, but it was only for three minutes.  I didn’t expect the challenger to continue his pace over the next several rounds, but unbelievably, there it was — the challenger pumping his jab into Tyson’s face, snapping sharp combinations off of the champion’s head.  Douglas looked smooth and relaxed and — most important — supremely confident as the fight began to wear on.  So many of Tyson’s prior challengers had entered their bouts with him literally frightened into defeat; Douglas, however, hadn’t shown any sign of being intimidated by Tyson’s reputation or demeanor.  As one round turned into two — then three– then four and five — I realized that Douglas was doing what no one who’d faced Tyson before had been able to do: he was using his size and strength advantage to push around the bully, forcing his will on Tyson while beating him to the punch.  Tyson had slipped into his one-punch mentality, and his stationary head provided an easy target for the challenger.  By the middle rounds, my scorecard  had Douglas pulling further ahead — and the swelling that was beginning to build over Tyson’s left eye was testament to the performance the challenger was giving: truly the performance of his life.

Douglas had no fear that night — he was a changed man in the ring, and in his life, at least for this fight.  His mother, Lula Pearl, had died only three weeks before; given the chance to back out of the fight, Douglas had pressed onward, in memory of her.  The people in his camp had sensed that something special was going to happen that night, as the inspiration that Douglas had always seemed unable to pair with his God-given talent was something he’d now magically captured for this one, defining moment in his life.  The opportunity to live up to all of the expectations laid upon him by his father, Billy Douglas — the opportunity to justify all of the faith his mother had held in him, throughout all of his darkest moments — that opportunity was standing in front of him in the ring in Tokyo — and he wasn’t about to waste it.

As Douglas continued to pound away on Tyson, I remember remarking to my father, “He can’t really keep this up, can he?”  I’d seen so many boxing matches over the years, and in all of them that had followed the same script that Tyson-Douglas was following, inevitably the fighter in Douglas’ shoes would end up winning by knockout.  There could be no other ending to the fight — not with the tremendous amount of punishment that Douglas was handing out — but still, there was a surreal feeling of disbelief in what we were watching.  My father and I knew — as I’m sure everyone watching at home or in Japan knew — that it would be only a matter of time until Tyson reestablished the natural order of the universe and dispatched Douglas back to the obscurity from which he’d come.  The unlikelihood of what we were watching was playing tricks with our perceptions, forcing us to ignore the obvious — and that was that Tyson was headed towards his first defeat.

Tyson watches in disbelief as Douglas climbs back to his feet

As the 8th round neared its end, there was the first moment where balance seemed to be ready to be restored — as Tyson finally caught Douglas with a huge uppercut that sent the challenger crashing to the canvas.  “Dammit — he was so close!” I remember saying (or something to that effect).  I had been captivated by both Douglas’ effort and by the tremendous sports story in the making that an upset would be, and I’d found myself rooting for Douglas as the fight progressed.   Incredibly, I watched Douglas beat the count just as the round ended.  “You think he can come back?” my dad had asked.  None of Tyson’s challengers had ever done so before.

But in the 9th, I found myself believing in the impossible.  Douglas not only shook off the effects of the knockdown, but he reestablished himself immediately, and the fight settled back into the rhythm of the earlier rounds.  Tyson was clearly frustrated now, and Douglas pulling himself up from the canvas seemed to sap the last of the champion’s energy.  With his eye swollen and almost shut, Tyson was caught by a vicious Douglas combination near the end of that round that wobbled his legs and sent him careening to the ropes.

“He’s hurt!  He’s hurt! He’s going to go down!”  My father and I had both jumped to our feet, shouting to each other and at the television as if he were working the corner ourselves.  My heart was racing with anticipation of a Tyson knockdown, but it didn’t come — not yet.

Tyson crashes to the canvas -- and boxing history is forever altered

As the 10th round began, the challenger continued his onslaught while the champion desperately tried to recreate his one, shining moment of the 8th round, hoping to land the shot that would save his title.  But it would be Douglas landing the greatest uppercut I’ve ever seen in a title fight — a right hand that nearly dislodged Tyson’s head from his shoulders and a punch that I’m certain would have knocked out many a heavyweight great that night.  As Tyson wobbled again, Douglas followed up with a flurry of punches, capped off with a brutal left hand that sent the champion crashing to the canvas for the first official time of his professional career.  I jumped in the air just as Tyson was landing on his back.

The sight of the champion — considered unbeatable — desperately fumbling for his mouthpiece with his glove while struggling to get to his feet, while the referee counted away the last moments of his reign as the self-proclaimed “Baddest Man on the Planet” is a sporting image I’ll never forget as long as I live.  As much as I’d grown to despise Tyson after his alliance with King and his abandonment of those who’d first brought him to greatness, as much as I’d found myself rooting for Douglas that night to win, I still felt sorry for the now ex-champion.  He had been humbled in a way that you don’t see in any other sport but boxing, and I knew at that moment, that his life was forever, irreparably changed.

Below, if you’ve never seen it, the thrilling conclusion to Tyson-Douglas (Rounds 8-10).

Douglas would break down in tears in the ring after the fight, talking about how the memory of his mother had driven him that night, and I found myself in tears as well.  The beauty of sports is in its ability to move emotionally the people who witness it, and nowhere could that have been seen better than in Tokyo that night.  It wasn’t the  greatest fight I’ve ever seen, but it still remains my favorite moment in boxing ever — and that, it will probably stay.

It’s been 20 years since Buster Douglas did the impossible.  A lot has happened after that fight to both men — the near-criminal attempt by Don King to have the result reversed because of a supposed “long count” on the Douglas knockdown (a brazen attempt at sports theft that was viewed poorly even by the boxing community, which has been witness to a number of outrageous things over the years), the debacle of Douglas’ reign as champion (which ended with an overweight, out-of-shape Douglas losing his title in a 3rd round knockout loss to Evander Holyfield in his very next fight), and the sad journey that Tyson would take over the course of his life afterward (with lowlights including his bankruptcy and his 1992 rape conviction).

I’d rather not remember all of that, though.  I’d rather remember watching with my father the Greatest Upset in boxing history as it took place — and thinking then that nothing was truly impossible.

The Greatest Boxing Upset Of All Time, Part Two

Posted in Boxing, Sports, The Wayback Machine with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by thelasthonestman

If you missed Part One, you can find it here.

The warning signs were all there — you just had to look a little bit deeper to find them.

A young Mike Tyson with Cus D'Amato

The first blow to Mike Tyson’s career wouldn’t be anything that took place in a ring — rather, it was the death of his mentor (and father figure), legendary trainer Cus D’Amato (who was best known for having trained former champion Floyd Patterson) in November of 1985.  Tyson was still young and impressionable at the time of D’Amato’s passing, and in time, we would learn that the elderly trainer had played a large part in keeping his fighter out of trouble — and in covering up those problems when they did occur.  D’Amato’s death left a vacuum in Tyson’s life that would never be filled; though D’Amato had already turned over the reigns of handling the fighter to trainer Kevin Rooney.

The management of Tyson’s career was first overseen by two men who had worked closely with D’Amato to guide the young fighter’s path, — they being Jim Jacobs and Bill Cayton.  Tyson was extremely close to Jacobs, and he respected him greatly, always listening to what he had to say — with Cayton, however, the close relationship was not there — a factor that would be instrumental in later events.  When Jacobs died of leukemia in 1988, the stability of Mike Tyson’s life took another crushing blow.  The vultures of the sport — such as notorious promoter Don King (with his long history of exploiting fighters for his own benefit) — were hovering nearby, waiting for their opportunity to sink their talons into a vulnerable Tyson.  The deaths of Jacobs and D’Amato, as well as Tyson’s own belief in his invulnerability in the ring, led to two ill-fated marriages — one to actress Robin Givens, the second a professional wedding of his career to Don King Promotions.

The fall of Mike Tyson from heavyweight dominance not coincidentally coincided with the arrival of Don King

With his tumultuous marriage to Givens headed quickly to a divorce, and the squabbling between King and the only surviving member of Tyson’s original management team in Cayton over Tyson’s career, the backdrop was set for Tyson’s fall.  Without the loyalty  to or close relationship with Cayton that he’d had with either D’Amato or Jacobs, Tyson was ripe to listen to the seductive promises made by King — as well as the veiled accusations by the promoter that the people running Tyson’s career were not looking after his best interests.  With that approach, King was finally able to convince Tyson to jettison all of those who had been with him from the beginning.  More notable than Cayton’s departure would be that of his trainer Rooney — a strong detractor of King’s influences — a loss that, at the time, seemed manageable — but which would also prove devastating in the months to come .

King’s people having assumed control, Tyson’s path to his eventual defeat in Tokyo was then set — even if no one realized it at the time.  Instead of a hard-working practitioner of the sport in the disciplined, no-nonsense camps run by Jacobs and Rooney, Tyson was now the head attraction of a traveling circus, led by the ringmasters of King and Givens, with a growing entourage of hanger-ons who were more concerned with themselves than Tyson’s success in the ring. Tyson’s training habits suffered, and his once-effective style quickly deteriorated.  While the early Tyson had been a deceptively effective defensive fighter, who finished his opponents off with quick, bursting combinations — now, he had been reduced to a plodding fighter who marched straight in to his opponent, who ignored the body-punching that had been so effective for him, and who now eschewed combination-punching for the one-punch knockout.

The problems from these changes in Tyson’s approach didn’t manifest themselves immediately — after an eight month layoff following the Spinks win (the longest of his career at that point), he knocked out European challenger Frank Bruno in 5, and followed that up with a 1st round demolition of Carl Williams five months afterward.  But to those people like myself who did look deeper, it was apparent that Tyson wasn’t the same fighter who had beaten Berbick, Holmes, and Spinks.  I remember thinking that the loss of Rooney would come back to haunt Tyson at some point and that the “new” Tyson was definitely not an “improved” Tyson — but who would be able to take advantage of the champion’s growing shortcomings?  Maybe Holyfield, I had thought — but that fight would have to wait until Tyson took care of business in Japan against James “Buster” Douglas in February of 1990.

I had watched a little of Douglas over the years, and I had never been all that impressed with what I had seen.  Douglas carried into his title challenge an unassuming record of 29-4-1 — with 3 knockout losses as part of his resume.  The 6 foot-4 inch tall Douglas was certainly talented;  he was quicker than his size might have indicated, with the ability to move around the ring and snap a crisp jab into an opponent’s face — when he was in shape, that is (which was always a hit-and-miss proposition for the heavyweight contender).  Douglas’ biggest drawback was that he seemed top have no passion for the sport, making him a sharp contrast to his sometimes-trainer — and father — Billy “Dynamite” Douglas, a fighter known in his career for his tenacity and heart in the ring.  The relationship between father and son was often strained, as the younger Douglas’ inability to fully realize his potential seemed to drive his father crazy.

Tony Tucker finishes off an uninspired Buster Douglas in the 10th round

I had watched Douglas lose on a 10th round knockout against Tony Tucker only a little more than two years earlier, in a fight that exemplified the best — and the worst — of Douglas.  Douglas had looked good in the early rounds, building a lead on the judges scorecards, but he faded in the later rounds.  When he was finished off in the 10th, he looked more tired and disinterested than hurt.  After the loss, I thought I had seen the last of Douglas as a heavyweight contender, and I didn’t think the sport would be any worse off as a result.  When he was announced as the tune-up opponent for Tyson before his superfight with Evander Holyfield, I saw a mismatch in the making.  While Douglas had “earned” the championship shot on the basis of 6 consecutive wins following the defeat to Tucker (the most notable being a knockout over fellow contender, a glass-jawed Mike Williams and decisions over a washed-up Trevor Berbick and future alphabet-champ Oliver McCall), it was apparent to everyone in the sport that Douglas had been selected only as a “safe” opponent for Tyson to quickly demolish.

As champion and challenger went to Japan, most of the boxing community had to stifle their collective yawns.  The question wasn’t who was going to win, but as to how quickly Tyson would knock Douglas out.  There would be only one casino willing to even put odds on the fight — the Mirage — which had Tyson as a commanding 42-1 favorite.  I wasn’t the only one who thought that those odds weren’t long enough.

The fight would take place on a Saturday night here (which translated to Sunday morning in Tokyo), February 11, 1990.  Along with my father (who was also a huge boxing fan), I religiously followed all of Tyson’s fights, watching them live whenever possible.  With the Tyson-Douglas fight being broadcast live in HBO, this would be another one of those occasions — though we almost didn’t see this fight take place.  “It’s just going to be another one round knockout,” I remember, even today, my dad telling me beforehand.  “Why bother?” he asked.

“Why not?” I’d replied.  “Maybe it might be a good fight, at least for a couple of rounds,” I reasoned.

Little did we — or the sporting world — realize then the magnitude of what we were about to see.

For The Greatest Boxing Upset Of All Time, Part Three, click here.

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming …

Posted in Personal with tags on February 16, 2010 by thelasthonestman

… To bring you this announcement:

The second part of my piece The Greatest Boxing Upset Of All Time will be delayed at least until tomorrow, maybe until Thursday.  The reason isn’t my celebrating Mardi Gras where I’m at — I haven’t been downtown to New Orleans for a parade for more than a decade and a half now (that occasion is a classic story itself which I’ll have to recount here at some point) — rather, I’ve been sidelined with a nasty flu bug after having dodged any illness for the entire winter season.  I feel terrible, and I have just enough strength to muster this heads-up on the schedule change and grab a quick bite to eat before I return to my warm bed and an afternoon spent with the NyQuil and whatever I can find on television.

But never fear, I’ll be back as soon as the flu relents its grip.  See you then.