Could judges have botched the Aldo-Faber fight?

They didn’t, of course — no one who saw the WEC Amp Energy featherweight title bout last night would have any doubt about the winner of the fight. The guy who walked out without a scratch (Jose Aldo) rightfully kept the belt. The guy who was carried back to his corner and was doubled over in pain from being used as a kickboxing bag (Urijah Faber) lost a lopsided decision. But if a couple of judging trends had continued, Faber could’ve taken an absurd victory despite Aldo’s domination in everyone’s eyes and in the FightMetric stats. Those trends are: 1. … Continue reading Could judges have botched the Aldo-Faber fight?

Why this world chess championship is so exciting

Like the world heavyweight boxing championship, the world chess championship has fallen on hard times since the ’70s and ’80s. The succession of colorful, controversial figures died out in a muddle of disputed titles and curious decisions.

From a U.S. perspective, the peak was the 1972 match in which Bobby Fischer won the title from Boris Spassky. The Soviet Union wouldn’t be without the title long — the erratic genius Fischer made a couple of unreasonable demands for his title defense and forfeited the crown to Anatoly Karpov in 1975.

Yet even without an American involved, Karpov’s 1978 title defense in Viktor Korchnoi was well-covered in the USA — see Sports Illustrated‘s report from the match’s opening and note Korchnoi’s “Ali-like entourage.” With the rabble-rousing defector Korchnoi facing a Soviet champion after disposing of several Soviet challengers, the match was steeped in Cold War animosity, perhaps even moreso than the Fischer-Spassky match. A Korchnoi comeback made the match almost as interesting on the board as it was off. Sports Illustrated recapped the final games, hinting that the key decision may have been the organizers’ agreement to kick out two Korchnoi aides — American members of an Indian “meditative sect” who were out on bail pending appeal of a stabbing convictiong — and the front-row seating of a Soviet “parapsychologist” who helped Karpov by staring intently at the challenger.

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Book review: ‘A Beautiful Game’

The first thing you’ll notice about A Beautiful Game is that it’s a beautiful book. The photography is rich and diverse — a treasured pair of dirty boots in Liberia, a youth clinic in Cambodia, a junkyard kickabout in Brazil, Fabio Cannavaro with a medal in Germany. Flip through the pages, and the scenes are as vibrant as the made-for-HD Planet Earth and Life TV series. Put the book on a coffee table, and you may find visitors flipping through it regardless of their level of soccer interest. The text of the book is a collection of essays from mostly … Continue reading Book review: ‘A Beautiful Game’

Friday Myriad: Get your track shoes and chess pieces

Don’t let the volcano or blown calls get you down. All times ET, which seems appropriate given the birth of new I-95 rivalries in MLS and WPS this weekend. TRACK AND FIELD Penn Relays, featuring the “USA vs. The World” events, will have a same-day delay broadcast, 8 p.m. ET Sat., ESPN2 The Drake Relays also will have their big names competing Saturday, though they’ve already seen a meet record with U.S. champion Diana Pickler in the heptathlon. Also the first official IAAF event of the season, the Dakar Grand Prix on Saturday. Two marathons Sunday: London and Madrid. London … Continue reading Friday Myriad: Get your track shoes and chess pieces

LaShawn Merritt, male enhancement and unanswered questions

Startling news from track and field today: 2008 Olympic champion and 2009 world champion 400-meter runner LaShawn Merritt revealed that he has accepted a provisional suspension due to positive drug tests. His championships aren’t at risk. In fact, none of his competitive results are at risk; the positives were recorded on out-of-competition tests since he last raced in September. The question is when he’ll be able to return to competition. If Merritt gets the standard two years, he’ll miss the 2011 World Championships. But there are a few mitigating circumstances and oddities that need to be investigated. The substance in … Continue reading LaShawn Merritt, male enhancement and unanswered questions

FC Dallas and the college conundrum

When the news came through that FC Dallas had hired former Penn State head coach Barry Gorman as their new technical director, the reaction wasn’t hard to predict. FCD owner Hunt Sports Group has lost a few fans. Among the issues: FCD’s head coach is Schellas Hyndman, the longtime Southern Methodist coach whose former players in college happen to include Clark Hunt. So when you tell a few Dallas fans that the team is hiring a friend of Hyndman’s who has been in the college game for a few decades, that’s akin to announcing a Beatles reunion with Yoko Ono … Continue reading FC Dallas and the college conundrum

Bellator nets nice ratings despite uneven distribution

Bellator has the numbers from its April 8 debut on Fox Sports Net, and they have reason to be pleased. The company says Bellator increased FSN’s Thursday night 25-54 male audience by 180 percent. Not exactly sure how they compute national ratings when FSN affiliates can choose different programming, but they share one local success story: 0.85 for a live airing on FSN Pittsburgh. Not bad for something with no obvious Pittsburgh tie-in. The trick is getting more affiliates to show the fights live. That’s not easy during the overlap of baseball with the NBA and NHL playoffs, but judging … Continue reading Bellator nets nice ratings despite uneven distribution

‘The Ultimate Fighter’: Season 11, Episode 4: The doors of perception

To review from last week (check the recap for a full rundown of the episode and the teams):

– Chris Camozzi’s jaw injury forced him to leave the house and show. Seth Baczynski, who lost a close decision to Court McGee in the prelims, took his place.

– Charles Blanchard gives massages, which some insecure people in the house find funny.

– Brad Tavares beat James Hammortree on every scorecard except that of Tito Ortiz, who apparently blacked out for the last 3:30 of the fight. Luckily, his card doesn’t count.

– Crabman (Jamie Yager) is getting closer to being this season’s Junie Browning.

On to this week …

We start with a recap of last week’s fight, and we learn that Yager was cheering for Tavares. Tavares is not on Yager’s team. Yager’s teammate, Nick Ring, isn’t happy about that. Ring already had feuded with Crabman, but they patch things up. We think. Yager has formed his own “team” that he calls “Minority Report.” It’s Yager (African American), Tavares (Hispanic), McCray and Kyle Noke (Australian). The others call it “Team Yager.” And worse.

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World chess championship delayed

Iceland is once again playing a role in the confused history of the world chess championship, and this time, Bobby Fischer isn’t involved. Thirty-eight years after Fischer beat Boris Spassky to break the Soviet Union’s Cold War stranglehold on the title and two years after Fischer died in Iceland as a wanted man in the USA, the 2010 title match has been delayed one day because champion Viswanathan Anand had trouble getting to Bulgaria, where challenger Veselin Topalov already has home advantage. Anand had trouble getting to Bulgaria because — you guessed it — that giant ash cloud from Iceland’s … Continue reading World chess championship delayed

The marketing of Landon Donovan

If you stopped by the soccer page at Yahoo! yesterday, you saw this video link: “Landon Donovan gets mad at a reporter.” Naturally, I clicked — Donovan isn’t the type to blow up at anyone. He’s heard it all before. At worst, you’ll get a mildly sarcastic answer, not hostility. The video paints a different picture: If it seems unbelievable, well, it is. Donovan has plenty of experience answering inane questions. And it’s hard to imagine a reporter asking about Gatorade unless it was a precondition of the interview. (Many reporters decline those preconditions.) In any case, there’s no … Continue reading The marketing of Landon Donovan