What we're watching: Floyd Mayweather is a lot of things to a lot of people. Here's what he was to me before he strolled into Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall and beat the everliving shit out of Arturo Gatti six years ago.
Mayweather strutted into a conference room on the sixth floor of Bally's Atlantic City, a baggy white T-shirt emblazoned with his autograph hanging down over his baggier Sean John denim shorts, diamonds sparkling from his watch.
He sat among a circle of reporters and repeated what he'd been saying for weeks - namely, that the world would soon know that he was more than a cocky, big-mouthed boxer from Michigan; that he was, in fact, a confident big-mouthed boxer from Michigan who'd stroll into New Jersey and crush Gatti, who's loved for his ability to take a violent beating, go down, get up and keep on punching.
"I'm here to show the fans that I'm on a different level, because I am," he said, adjusting his black Floyd Mayweather Jr. cap. "I've faced 33 guys, and I've delivered 33 ass-whoopin's."
He backed every word up. My fucking God, did he back every word up. Not to besmirch the dead or anything, but Gatti relinquished a lot of takes-a-beating-and-gets-up ring cred that night. It was sad, but it was mesmerizing.
It was also, in a way, the start of Floyd's villainy construction. Cockiness — because Floyd's bravado outweighs his confidence up until the opening bell — is only a fault when you fail to meet the challenges it creates. That night, Floyd went into a tough guy's backyard, did what he said he'd do and became the type of boxer that HBO builds a mini-series and PPV vault around.
On the morn of the day Floyd guarantees he'll whoop his 42nd ass in succession, he's facing accusations of dirty tactics. Elbows, specifically. It's gotten to the point that Victor Ortiz's trainer Danny Garcia said, "What's going to happen if I tell Victor to hit Floyd in the [privates]? If he wants to fight dirty, we'll fight dirty. We'll win this fight. No matter what."
Here's the thing: They won't. No matter what.
There's no denying Mayweather ducked Manny Pacquiao at the soft spot of Manny's career in which he'd almost certainly have stolen Floyd's precious undefeated legacy. That's a pussy move that he'll have to live with when people debate an asterisk at his career's end.
But there's also no denying that Mayweather is goddamn good when he's in the ring. He sets showmanship aside to prove he's a technically incredible pugilist. Also, he's among — if not the only — draw capable of getting people like me to shell out $69.95 without a moment of buyer's remorse.
So yeah, there'll be an open thread tonight.
Kellen Moore had a 5TD night against Toledo: "That's how [QB Kellen] Moore could stand within sight of a scoreboard that says the Broncos beat the feisty Rockets by 25 points, after he just passed for 455 yards and five touchdowns, and tell a crowd of impressed journalists that this wasn't the Broncos' 'best brand of football.' And be right. 'We had a few big plays, then drives would get stuck, not getting any points out of it,' Moore said. 'That can't happen.'" [Idaho Statesman]
The first team to clinch its MLB division title was not the Philadelphia Phillies: "Even the most cynical alarmists and 1964 survivors don't believe the Phillies haven't all-but-mathematically wrapped up their fifth straight division flag. They had a chance to make it official. They didn't. It deflated yet another sellout crowd that had come to celebrate, especially since the Atlanta Braves did their part of the daily double by being soundly thumped at home by the freefalling Mets. [Philadelphia Daily News]
It was the Detroit Tigers: "The players and coaches mingled briefly before heading back to the clubhouse to let loose, where attendants had sheathed the stalls and floor in plastic, laid out cases of champagne and icy tubs of beer. Smoke plumes from expensive cigars – 'beyond my pay range,' joked Justin Verlander – mixed with a constant spray of bubbly and beer. Most of the players wore eye protection to avoid the sting. Inge donned a diving mask and snorkel, just about everyone else sported swim goggles. Cabrera wore nothing but a content smile as he sat on an exercise bike with a bottle of water." [Detroit Free Press]
Joe Mauer will see you Twins fans in '12: "'Despite medication his symptoms have not resolved,' Twins trainer Rick McWane said. 'In Kansas City, he started to complain of a persistent cough. Yesterday, he was sent to the Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with mild pneumonia and the recommendation is medications and rest for two weeks.'" [Star Tribune]
Your Proven Fatherhood Dance Party Interlude:
When you get felt-up going into a NFL game, thank the taser guy: "Under the new 'enhanced' pat-down procedures, the NFL wants all 32 clubs to search fans from the ankles to the knees as well as the waist up. Previously, security guards only patted down fans from the waist up while looking for booze, weapons or other banned items." [USA Today]
Prep QB loses part of leg after freak injury: "A grief stricken Woodberry Forest football program heads into its second game of the season this weekend, dealing with a shocking and gruesome injury to junior quarterback Jacob Rainey, whose leg was amputated at a Fairfax hospital a week after going down in a preseason scrimmage at Flint Hill High School." [The Daily Progress]
Last night in unnecessary Darren Rovell tweets: "So many people have asked me if Tom Brady sells those TB12 hats he was wearing this week. Answer is no." [Twitter]
Today's Soccer Viewing Recommendations: Blackburn Rovers vs. Arsenal (Ends at 10 a.m., ESPN2). A replay of the Atletico Madrid vs. Celtic FC Europa League match (9:30 a.m., GolTV). Wolverhampton vs. QPR (9:53 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus). Aston Villa vs. Newcastle (10 a.m., Fox Soccer Channel). Kaiserslautern vs. Mainz 05 (12:30 p.m., GolTV). Inter Milan vs. Roma (2:30 p.m., FSC).
Merch: Managing editor Tom Scocca and contributing editor Drew Magary have both written books. You can buy Scocca's Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future here, and Magary's The Postmortal here. Now do it.