Thursday, April 23, 2015

The fight of the decade (Maybe?)

Oh boy.....

The Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao fight is turning into a debacle. Tony Manfred,

While the two camps agreed to the fight in February, they've yet to sign the contract, ESPN's Darren Rovell reports.
As a result, tickets to both the fight at the MGM Grand and the closed-circuit viewings at MGM properties around Las Vegas haven't been released for sale.
Ticket sales are expected to generate $72 million, but a week and a half before the fight, no one has a ticket. The two sides reportedly made progress on Tuesday, but the contract remains unsigned as of Wednesday morning.
Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank, is blaming Mayweather Promotions, and vice versa. 

For all of the progress boxing has made in 2015, due in large part to the success of Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Championships and some other good fights, any time there is a Superfight (even one that's 5 years too late) coming up we're reminded just how little business sense the promoters in the game actually have.

Yes, they're good at making money in short bursts, but if you look at the boxing landscape over the past few years the only truly bankable fighters in the game are Mayweather and Pacquiao.  Everyone else near their weight has just been positioning themselves for the big payout by losing to these two. (OK, except Juan Manuel Marquez)

That said, I still think this fight is going to go off. It's ugly and it's starting to border on high comedy (with Arum and Haymon involved, how could it not?) but there's been too much push and too much publicity for this for either side to absorb.

Still, it's yet another black eye for boxing that's self induced. As a boxing fan it's getting hard to support a group that seemingly has no sense of self preservation.

The NFL: The 2015 Draft (49ers & Texans analysis)

When it comes to the NFL I am a supporter of one team (the San Francisco 49ers) because I grew up a fan of them (No, not Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott was my favorite) and pull for another team (the Houston Texans) because they are my home-town team.  Prior to the Texans I was a supporter of BOTH the 49ers AND the Houston Oilers.  When the Oilers left town my football loyalty to Houston sort-of relocated as well.  I pull for the Texans because I'm forced to watch them almost every week (I don't have Direct TV and refuse to get it just so I can get the NFL package) and I do like some of the players. (Formerly Johnson and Watt, now mainly just Watt).

If you're still keeping up with me after all of those parentheticals then I think it's time to take a quick peek at the draft for both teams.  It should be noted here that I think, in all cases, NFL mock drafts are bunk. They're the attempt of middling sports personalities to try and outthink teams and GM's who spend months analyzing the players, interviewing them, doing background research etc.  My biggest problem with the mock drafts of the so-called 'experts' is that quite often, when teams deviate from them, the drafts are considered a "bad draft" and fans go nuts over stuff they don't understand. As an example of this, JJ Watt was booed by Texans fans on draft day and his selection was met with indifference by most (not all) sports-talk, mock-drafting personalities.

Still, if you must have it, you can find the 'experts' mock-drafts here. Including one from a Houston talk radio personality for whatever worth you place on that.  So, with out further ado, here's where I see each teams needs for the Draft as well as some potential players they might target with their first round picks.

49ers. (15th Pick)

Needs: Defensive Backfield, Wide Receiver, Linebacker, Defensive Line.

This team has been decimated in the off-season with retirements and free agency losses. What was once among the most talent-laden, and deepest, rosters in the league is suddenly showing some gaping holes that GM Trent Baalke is going to have to try and address in the NFL Draft.  Most pundits are suggesting that the 49ers will select Oregon DE Arik Armstead in the first round and I think that makes some sense. The 49ers desperately need another edge rusher to complement Aldon Smith and Armstead would be a good fit. If they don't go edge rusher then I expect them to look at either UCF WR Breshad Perriman or, if available, UCONN CB Byron Jones. Marcus Peters (CB Washington is a remote possibility but I think he would be very over drafted here. One player that I think the 49ers might be looking strongly at is Missouri DE Shane Ray. Most mock drafts have him going at #16 to the Texans but I could see Baalke snapping him up the pick before.  I don't see the 49ers selecting a WR here because all of the top guys should be long gone by this time, and this is a deep WR draft which offers potential in the 2nd and 3rd rounds to grab a good #2 or #3 receiver.

Texans (16th Pick)

Needs: Quarterback, Wide Receiver, Offensive Tackle, Tight End, Cornerback.

As I stated earlier, a lot of people see the Texans getting Shane Ray and, if he's still available, I think this is a good slot and a good situation for him to go.  That said, if someone in front of the Texans takes Ray I think the team could be facing someone of a mess.  Airk Armstead doesn't fit the 3-4 defense the Texans like to play and I think most of the 1st round worthy OT's could be gone.  If available, a good pick for them would be Andrus Peat (OT - Stanford) but I don't see him being available at #16.  Byron Jones should be there, but I'm not sure if the Texans will decide he's good enough value at that slot.  The experts are all over the place, local Lance Zierlein has the Texans taking the aforementioned Breshard Perriman, but picks vary wildly from Nelson Agholar (WR-USC) to CB Jones to (unlikely) RB Todd Gurley) I also like Miami Offensive tackle Ereck Flowers and LSU OT La'El Collins here for the team. Amazingly, analyst Charlie Casserly has La'el falling to the Broncos at #28. I don't see any way that happens.

If I had to guess, right now, I'm expecting both of the teams I support to panic at their spots and make reach picks.  The 49ers have been deluged with negative press since last year and the Texans GM Rick Smith is desperate to make a splash and prove that he's not overmatched for the job. It wouldn't shock me to see the Texans reaching to grab Breshard Perriman and Zierlein predicts and it wouldn't shock me to see the 49ers reach for Byron Jones.

One thing is for sure, for both of these teams the 2015 NFL Draft is going to be a pivotal moment in their teams development. After hitting on several drafts Baalke needs to prove that he knows what he's doing firing Harbaugh and bringing in relatively unknown Tomsula to coach the team. Rick Smith still needs to prove that he understands the talent evaluation part of the game and cannot (in my opinion) afford to whiff on another draft as he has more often than not in the past.

The draft is a week from today, and Tampa Bay is on the clock.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

First Thoughts on the #49ers 2015 Schedule

Any hope for the playoffs could be done by week 6.

New coach, totally re-building the roster.

This is going to get ugly fast folks.

The thing is, I'm almost rooting against them so that the regime that created this mess gets canned.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bad travel blogging abounds. (Vegas Travel Edition)

So much bad travel blogging so little time.

Have you seen this?

Vegas Noob? 20 Things you must know before arriving.

There are a lot of hotels in Las Vegas and choosing the right one can be difficult.
The way I see it, you have 3 options:
Pick the cheapest one (trust me, you don’t want to do this)
Comb through travel forums and take advice from total strangers
Check out Bryce’s color-coded map below this list

"The list" (go read the whole post) is a rather simplistic attempt to categorize Vegas hotels based on location.  The short version of this is "only stay in the middle of the strip when you come to Vegas".  That's fair advice, but not exactly relevant nor does it really establish the many reasons one might choose to stay in any of the many Vegas casinos.

But Vegas information, especially from bloggers, is always bad.  Always. Either they assume that you want from Vegas the same things that they do or they try and guess what you want to get out of the trip and are 100% wrong.  Unlike political bloggers (and most points/miles bloggers) I don't think they do this because of kick-backs (in most cases) I just don't think that the Vegas "insider" really understands why people come to Vegas in the first place.

It's all about having fun.  Most people don't come to Vegas specifically to gamble, but most end up doing so when they get there.  As a matter of fact, a recent survey revealed that only 4% of first time Vegas visitors come to the town specifically to gamble but, once there, over 70% end up wagering. A lot of visitors see shows, and a lot of people go to nightclubs. Oh, and you're probably shopping and just sightseeing as well when you're in town.

The dirty secret about Vegas is that, honestly, as long as you're either staying on The Strip or near Freemont Street, where you stay is merely a matter of price preference, because you can get anywhere fairly cheaply and easily using either cabs, public transportation or walking.

That said there are pros and cons to almost every hotel in Vegas, depending on what you're looking for. To try and say that there are "zones" to shoot for or avoid is really nonsensical.  Take Circus Circus as an example.  It's an older property in zone 3, which according to the "chart" you should always avoid.  However, I'm willing to bet, if you have children, this casino should be on the top of your list. The primary reason for this is The Adventuredome and the live circus acts and Midway which kids love. Then you have Excalibur which has the Fun Dungeon which kids also love. So, if you travel with the kiddies both of these hotels should be on the top of your list not "zone 3" places to avoid.

If you're a sports bettor you might consider staying at the Westgate which houses the SuperBook. If you follow the guidance to "never stay in a hotel off the strip" you'll be some distance from Las Vegas' premier sports book.

Advice of this type is becoming more and more prevalent among travel bloggers. There are, to be truthful, a lot of kick-backs that these folks receive which leads them to make odd recommendations most of the time.  This blog, unfortunately, is too small too receive anything like that so I hope that I'm always offering the best advice possible, in a fair and even-handed manner.  Even IF I had the readership to pull in endorsement money I'd like to think that I wouldn't.  For one, I have a day job that pays well and secondly, I find the endless "click my affiliate links" posts that most points/mileage bloggers are writing now to be incredibly boring.  One guy even blogged about applying for a credit card which allowed him to provide 21 separate affiliate links within one post. The saddest part about that is I'm not even sure it's a record.

There was a time that miles/points bloggers made sense, offered good travel information and did a pretty good job keeping up with the various loyalty programs. This was before they became thought leaders (no really) and compensated pitchmen for the affiliate credit-card industry. In fact, even when they were blogging about aspirational awards they STILL had SOME value. The problem now is that when they're slaves to content. So you get a ton of affiliate links and pictures of lounges, selfies in airplane restrooms (which are as creepy as they sound) and tons and tons of carping about mileage devaluations.

Over the weekend, for some odd reason, I did a lot of travel/miles/points blog reading. My takeaway from this was that, for many of the reasons noted above, the industry as a whole is almost dead. I'm not sure what the fix is, and I'm almost certain that this little blog isn't going to stem the tide. I just hope I don't ever contribute to the downfall. (of course, some might say that I already am)

Monday, April 6, 2015

NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game

Current Odds:  Wisconsin (-1) [Game opened as a pick 'em]

I realize that I've taken a few months off from this blog, partially due to health reasons (neck surgery) and partially due to just some normal time off from College Football that I usually take every year.

If you're one of my one (or two) regular readers however fret not. The blog with the most mediocre sports takes in the business is back, and I'm planning to lay out some fairly serious baseball and NFL draft analysis in the coming months.

First though, the game tonight.

While Wisconsin is the trendy pick I'm leaning toward Duke in this game because they are currently playing a stellar brand of basketball.  They haven't won a tournament game by less than 15 points and they steam-rolled a very good Michigan State team.

Yes, I'm aware that Wisconsin beat the unbeatable Kentucky and I, like most, kept starting at the television at the sports bar wondering when in the hell the Wildcats were going to realize they were more athletic than the Badgers. It never happened, Kaminsky is a very good College basketball player and, in the end, I think we got the match-up that we should have after what was a pretty solid, if unremarkable, tournament.

That said I think that Duke has the coaching edge as well as a huge edge in overall team athleticism. Against Kentucky I think Wisconsin had the edge in coaching, but was facing a much more athletic team in the Wildcats.

Without further ado......

Duke: 65  Wisconsin: 61

At the end of the day men's college basketball teams still need to learn how to score.

Sports Section