Twining’s Take on the week in sports: Premiere Week! Boxing, MLB and NFL drama

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It’s premiere week on TV and everybody is getting ready to start tuning in to their favorite shows. Let me rephrase that, their favorite good shows. Getting to premier week is no easy task. You almost want to wish people congratulations. “Congrats, you finally made it…to fall…when there is finally something good on tv.” No, Bachelor Pad 2 does not count as good TV.

Finally, our favorite shows are back and we get to see who gets hired on the office. SPOILER ALERT: it’s James Spader. See, even though we have to wait to see what happens, because everything is scripted and filmed, we don’t have to wait to learn what happens. Thanks to the internet, we can just look up spoilers.

Recently, I’ve become a born-again professional wrestling fan … Okay, are you done laughing? Good; let me continue. It is my belief that everybody is a closest wrestling fan. We all, on random occasions throughout life, revert to pro-wrestling jargon. Tag-team? Laying the smackdown? Both wrestling terms, both commonly used.John Cena and Mark Henry

Now, my girlfriend pointed out to me the other day that her TV show viewing is bereft of dramas and consists of a healthy dose of comedies and reality shows. Wait, can’t you also look up spoilers for reality shows too, because they aren’t live? You might even say reality shows are also fake? Gasp!

In these “reality shows,” “real people” play out “real drama” in “real life”. Sure, it reads as reality television, but instead it’s just real people in fake roles and fake scenarios which cause the real people to then become “celebrities.”

You know what isn’t taped and isn’t fake? Professional wrestling.

Take your normal pro wrestler. A real person, who was athletic and played sports growing up and whose exceptional talents propelled them to the WWE. By the time they make it to the grand stage, they’ve essentially abandoned their real-life persona and taken on a name, gimmick or role in the WWE that they maintain wherever they go.

The wrestlers’ ability to keep their jobs is about how well they can maintain that wrestling persona on live tv. There aren’t “seasons” or summer breaks for filming in the WWE. A lot of people say wrestling is “fake” because the wrestlers aren’t really fighting. While that may be true, often times the allure is not necessarily the outcome of the match but the journey to get to that outcome.

After my girlfriend told me about her drama-free TV watching, I realized something. I don’t watch many dramas either. You know why? I’m a sports fan. If I want drama, I’ll just tune in to the current MLB playoff race, the recent controversial Floyd Mayweather fight, or the always-exciting NFL. But, when I tire of the politics of the NCAA, or the frustration of another Seattle Mariner losing season, I know I can always tune in to Monday Night Raw and catch some real drama, with crazy athleticism mixed in.

Now, on to this week’s Twining’s Take. After my pro wrestling rant, I’ll keep it short this week. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this week’s topic is sports drama. First up, Mayweather’s “cheap shot.”

The Greatest Ever – Except Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather hadn’t fought in what seemed like ages. He has had more recent fights with the law than fights against actual people. Well, sanctioned fights that is. Who knows what fights his gambling debts incite. Regardless, “Money” Mayweather was back in the ring fighting to maintain his undefeated record.

Floyd Mayweather
The fight ended with what some might call a cheap shot by Mayweather, which knocked out Victor Ortiz and secured Mayweather’s 45th victory. True, the referee was not looking at the fighters at the time of the knockout and Ortiz may have not been ready to resume fighting.

Nonetheless, the reason the referee wasn’t looking and the reason the fight had to be halted mid-round to begin with was because Ortiz blatantly head-butted Mayweather. After the referee deducted a point from Ortiz and the fighters touched gloves to signify the fight had resumed, the referee briefly looked away to check the time and Mayweather knocked Ortiz out with a quick left-right combo.

There is an old adage in boxing that says a fighter must always defend himself in the ring. Regardless what was happening with the ref, Mayweather was completely in the right to hit Ortiz and Ortiz was in the wrong for not being prepared. Does the win establish Mayweather as the greatest ever? Not so fast, my friend. He might have the best record, at 45-0, but until he fights Pacquio the debate of “best ever” will continue.

MLB Pennant Race

It’s been a while since Twining’s Take talked about Major League Baseball. With two weeks left in this excruciatingly-long 2011 regular season, every division race is all but wrapped up. Except the uber-competitive AL East.

Yankees – Red Sox. Yankees – Red Sox. Yankees – Red Sox. Rays? Since 1996, the winner of the AL East has usually come down to the rivalry between New York and Boston. If it’s not enough that these two often battle it out for a division title, the “losing” team often makes the playoffs as a wild-card and fans are treated to another Yankees-Red Sox playoff series.

Boston Red Sox
After the Tampa Bay Rays dropped the Devil in their name, they have suddenly become yearly contenders. What was often a two-team battle has now become a triple-threat match, so to speak. Boston started the season 2-10, and the world was about to end. Nobody makes the playoffs after starting 2-10; NOBODY! But then the Red Sox started scoring runs and winning games. By late August, the AL East was once again a two-team race. Yankees in first, Red Sox leading the wild card.

September is the last full-month of the regular season, but if you watch the Red Sox recently, it seems they must’ve thought the season ended in August. Their late-season September struggles have been so bad the Rays now have a shot at winning the Wild Card.

Currently, the Rays are two games back of the Red Sox in the Wild Card, who are four games back of the Yankees for the division lead. The Rays open up a four-game series against the Yankees on Thursday and the Red Sox play the Orioles. Then, to end the season, it’s another Boston-New York showdown which could end with both teams in the playoffs or just one.

It’s been a long season, I know, but if you’ve made it this far, don’t abandon MLB for the NFL just yet. We still have one more exciting pennant race left and we might have to wait until game 162 to see which teams make the playoffs out of the AL East.

NFL in High Gear

All this hullabaloo about moving the kickoffs up five yards from the 30 yard-line to the 35 yard-line apparently has had little effect on kickoff returns. Yes, a great number of kickoffs end up going out of the back of the end zone or being downed for touchbacks, putting the offense at the 20 yard-line to start. That being said, it seems that whenever a team does decide to return a kick they are at least making it out to the 20, and often beyond.

In fact, in week one alone, the NFL had 5 kickoffs returned for touchdowns and three punt returns. The eight total kick returns for touchdowns is the single highest total for any one NFL weekend.

As we get deeper into the season, I predict the kickoff returns for touchdowns will continue and by season’s end, the average starting position in the NFL will be better than it was a year ago. Will injuries on kickoffs go down? Doubtful. Players get injured all the time, regardless of kickoff position. Speaking of injuries.

The Kansas City Chiefs, defending AFC West champions, lost their best defensive player, safety Eric Berry, in week one and then lost their best offensive player, running back Jamaal Charles, in week two. It’s bad news for fantasy owners, as Charles was a top-five pick in most drafts, but it’s good news for Charger fans. It appears the AFC West is down to a two-team battle – Oakland and San Diego.

Photos courtesy jrandallc, italian_freedom_fighter, and Keith Allison via Flickr

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