By In Stuff

Boxing, Minnie and 100 Greatest

So, you might have heard: Boxing is coming back to NBC Prime Time this Saturday for the first time in like a bajillion years. I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with boxing because of my father, who is:

1. The most peaceful person I’ve ever known.

2. The biggest boxing fan I’ve ever known.

Boxing is weird that way. A few months ago, I met the amazing Jenny Lewis. She sings like an angel. And she is a CRAZY boxing fan. I mean, seriously, crazy. She found out I was a sportswriter, and she made it clear that she has no interest in any sports except boxing. And she proceeded to ask me about 10 million boxing questions, which was funny because it was clear that she knows about 10 million times more about boxing than I do.

Anyway, I have a boxing piece up today on SportsWorld about what it is about this sport that still compels and thrills and fascinates so many.  I will have another one up later in the week about an amazing relationship between a young boy looking to become a man, and an old man looking to find some meaning in his sport and in his life.

— I have written a piece about the death of Minnie Minoso — that will be up on SportsWorld tomorrow. It goes without saying that I’m sad that Minoso was not elected into the Hall of Fame before his death. He was a Hall of Famer as a baseball player and as a man.

— I have written No. 40 in my Baseball 100. I believe that will go up here on the blog tomorrow so we will get that all kick started again.

— I’m also writing a piece about my most recent father-daughter dance (my fourth!) so that might go up sometime soon. Then again, I might not finish it. A lot going on.

— I’m in Arizona for some baseball — assuming it ever stops raining. This was the credential I got in Surprise from the Kansas City Royals. I think it’s fair to say it’s the sort of credential I never expected to get.




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25 Responses to Boxing, Minnie and 100 Greatest

  1. mark coale says:

    Aptly named Surprise Stadium.

  2. Greybeard_in_California says:

    American League Champions! How cool is that?

  3. Jim Haas says:

    Looking forward to all these pieces –especially the Minoso one because he was my grandma’s favorite player. I do wish you would not begin nearly every post with the word “so.” Thanks!

  4. wogggs says:

    Awesome to get that credential. I am wearing one of my Royals AL Champions shirts right now. It makes me happy just to put it on. Hopefully, I don’t have to wait another 29 years to get another one.

  5. Rick Malwitz says:

    I’m told that Bill James posited that Minnie Minoso would have been one of the top 30 players of all time, had Jim Crow thinking not delayed his entry in the majors until he was 25. OK. Let’s give him three more seasons with 170 hits per season. That would put his career total at 2,473, only three ahead of Bobby Abreu. Abreu has a higher career on-base and slugging percentage than Minnie Minoso. Bobby Abreu will not sniff the HOF. Yes, Minnie Minoso was wonderful person, by all accounts. But the HOF is not about being wonderful.

    • jposnanski says:

      Two problems. One, Bill wrote that on the basis that Minoso was 28, not 25, when he played his first season in the big leagues. There is still much debate about Minoso’s age, something I get into in the piece.

      Second, comparing Bobby Abreu’s stats to Minnie Minoso’s stats is silly. Their eras are not comparable. Also there are 36 hitters in the Hall of Fame with less than 2,473 hits and lower slugging and on-base percentages than Minnie Minoso.

      Make it three problems. Best I can tell, Bobby Abreu was not the first black Major League baseball player in Chicago and the first true dark-skinned Latin American star in the Major Leagues.

      • Brian says:

        Abreu also has a pretty decent Hall of Fame candidacy, but one that has nothing to do with Minnie Minoso.

  6. DjangoZ says:

    I used to enjoy boxing, but MMA has so completely surpassed it as a sport. I don’t think I can ever watch boxing again, it just isn’t interesting enough any more.

    It’s like someone created a new sport like baseball but took out all of the annoying parts and added 60% new things that are fascinating. I don’t think boxing will ever recover.

    • Ed says:

      I strongly disagree with this. Or at least half of it. I agree that boxing will probably never recover, but not for the reason you’re giving.

      First, I’m not really a fan of either. I have a friend who is a HUGE fan of both, so most of the boxing and MMA I’ve seen has been with him. Boxing can be very interesting, and I’ve enjoyed some of the matches I’ve seen. MMA is horrible and I don’t understand how anyone can enjoy it. A lot of the matches I’ve seen involve them rolling around on the ground trying to get each other into a submission hold, and it’s one of the most boring things I’ve ever watched. But the matches that don’t revolve around people on the ground are less interesting than boxing to me too. Something like kickboxing is far more entertaining to me than MMA. For me, boxing at its worst is more watchable than MMA is at its worst, and boxing at its best is so far beyond MMA at its best that it’s laughable.

      But that’s ENTIRELY opinion, just like your belief that MMA is much better is entirely opinion.

      The real reason boxing won’t ever recover (again, in my opinion) is because it’s too fragmented. Top guys don’t fight each other because they are represented by different promoters who don’t want to have to split the money. There are 900 titles in every weight class. MMA, on the other hand, is dominated by UFC, and thus they can guarantee the best fighters are fighting against each other and so fans can actually see a title and believe that person deserves it… as well as see the top competitors in each weight class actually go against one another.

      If boxing could somehow have a unified body with one title per weight class and official rankings where boxers (and/or promoters) couldn’t duck fights they didn’t want to have, boxing could be huge again. Even now big boxing PPVs matching up two big time fighters for a title make more money than the biggest UFC PPVs — Mayweather/Pacquiao will probably make three or four times as much money as any UFC PPV ever has. If boxing could guarantee those types of fights more often (top contenders fighting each other, champions fighting the actual top contender regularly), instead of spending 6 years to make it happen, it might have a chance. But I don’t think that will ever happen.

      • In short, boxing is corrupt & serves only itself, not the fans. I wonder if other sports are headed down this long road with their expensive stadiums, PSLs, increasingly unexciting product and $15 beers. At some point, don’t the fans just move on to something else? I know younger fans have moved on from baseball and boxing, preferring soccer and MMA. Obviously MMA has supplanted Boxing. I believe Soccer will supplant Baseball. Probably in 10-20 years, or so.

        • Ed says:

          I’ve gotten the sense from my aforementioned friend that UFC/MMA may have plateaued a couple of years ago. Again, this is totally anecdotal (and I’m not a fan), but according to him UFC has become less interesting lately and he and his other UFC friends don’t care about it as much. Apparently PPV buys are down from a couple of years ago as well. I’m not sure it’s going to really grow beyond where it is now — it may remain a niche sport just like boxing.

          As for the other stuff… I’m not sure any of that really matters with the way things have advanced. Every game is on TV/the Internet. Personally, I PREFER watching it on TV. Going to a game is too expensive, but even if I could go for free… I think I’d still rather watch it in the comfort of my home on a nice big HDTV. Especially if it’s a team I actually care about, because I feel like it’s easier for me to keep track of what’s going on in the game and not miss anything if I’m watching at home instead of at the stadium. Of course, I also have no interest in watching games I care about at a bar or a big gathering, so I’m probably an outlier. I still don’t think being able to actually go to the games matters anywhere near as much today as it did even 20 years ago.

        • Kuz says:

          The “ten to twenty years” it will take soccer to replace baseball is the longest ten to twenty years in the history of the universe. The first time I read a comment like this I was a young man. I’m no spring chicken now.

          • Platinum says:

            I think that, by nature, baseball is an “old man’s sport.” I don’t mean that in a negative way. But as Kuz points out, people have been lamenting baseball’s loss of young fans (to football, to basketball, to soccer, to MMA…) for years and years and years, yet baseball is still extremely healthy today, basically at record levels for attendance, revenue, etc. (Local TV ratings are also good, though national TV ratings are way down, as they are for just about everything except NFL football.) I think that’s because a lot of people who, as kids, were not big baseball fans, pick up a greater interest in it in their 30s and 40s (and even 20s). The pace, the history, the stats, the presentation of the game on TV and radio, and the overall aura of the sport simply appeal more to more “mature” people. Golf is similar — there are not a ton of golf fans or players in elementary school, and there probably never will be. But golf as a sport is doing well enough. So I don’t really foresee baseball “dying out” anytime soon. It’s no longer the central cultural presence it was up through the 1950s, but that’s OK. It has carved out a very solid, sustainable niche among an extraordinarily diverse number of entertainment options. That should be celebrated, not mourned.

  7. LC_KC says:

    Are you going to write a “Royals will win their division” column this year? You will certainly have a renewed sense of basing it on real evidence rather than idealistic hope.

  8. Why wasn’t Joe allowed to give autographs?

  9. Dave B says:

    It’s nice to see that Joe’s Baseball 100 is getting started again. It’s been a looong time.

    I’m on the fence with Minnie in the Hall. It would have been nice, if he’s going to get in at all, if it had happened while he’s still alive. Still, to me, so much of it depends on when he was born, and it seems like the later birth date has at least as much evidence going for it as the early birth date. Even with the later birth date, I think he may be deserving, though there are a few other guys I’d put in ahead of him.

  10. Mark A says:

    So NBC got prime time boxing back, and you were suddenly inspired to write for NBC’s website about how compelling boxing is.

    I hate having bosses, too.

    • Boxing is compelling. If you go back to 1985 for a Hearns/Leonard or Arguello/Prior fight. Back then, we bought all the pay per views and had a large party to watch them. Do people ever do this anymore?

      • Mark A says:

        Boxing may be compelling. But if Joe was not writing for the website of a network trying to bring it back to prime time this weekend amid a decade long decline in the sports popularity, he might be writing about something else.

  11. Nick says:

    Wait, wait, wait. I think you sort of skipped over the most incredible detail here…..THAT YOU MET JENNY LEWIS.

  12. Chad says:

    I need to see if I can find my spreadsheet for the top 100 contest to see who I picked for it. If who ever is running it could pop their head up and let us know where we’re at, that’d be terrific.

  13. Mark says:

    In memory of a great man, I propose to write and pronounce his last name properly: Miñoso (the letter “ñ” has a special pronunciation, that makes it different than in Minoso).

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