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O.J. parole hearing: Did Simpson make amends or make excuses?

O.J. parole hearing: Did Simpson make amends or make excuses?

After watching the O.J. Simpson parole hearing Thursday morning, a few reactions:

  • I think there was a clear reason why Simpson was originally sentenced to 9-33 years for burglary -- an uncommonly long penalty for such a crime. You can talk all you want about how his previous murder trial had nothing to do with this crime, but I don't believe that. In spite of denials, I believe the judge in that case delivered a verdict meant to keep Simpson behind bars for as long as possible -- partly due to his escape from the double-murder charge. Remember, the most notorious gangster in our country's history, Al Capone, was finally sent up the river for tax evasion -- not for any of his more heinous crimes. Sometimes justice gets a second chance.
  • When Simpson's eldest daughter told the parole board about how much her family has gone through, I cringed. I can't imagine the Goldmans' reaction.
  • Simpson still owes the Goldmans $33 million as the result of the civil case, which Simpson lost. He lives in Florida in order to preserve his personal wealth ... and not pay the debt.
  • After watching the car chase, the trial and all the documentaries about the murders, I have a hard time believing Simpson isn't a hardcore sociopath.
  • Simpson told the parole board he has lived a "conflict-free" life. Is he that delusional?
  • This man wrote a book entitled, "If I did it." It took a lot of hubris to do that.
  • At the hearing, did he make amends, or make excuses? I would say the latter. What say you?
  • He was released and judged by the parole board not to be a danger to society. After what he went through in that long murder trial, to then get involved in what was basically an armed robbery, was inexplicable. And it was an indication that he's probably not real accomplished at controlling his reaction to adverse situations.  I would not be surprised if he re-offends in some way.

Preview of the 2018 Seattle Mariners – The Infield

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USA Today

Preview of the 2018 Seattle Mariners – The Infield

By 

As pitchers and catchers assemble in Peoria, Arizona with position players not far behind, it’s time to start thinking about baseball. Barring any last minute free-agent signings, the Seattle Mariners lineup is pretty much set for the 2018 season. Barring injuries, the following players will be in the infield for the Mariners for the majority of innings this season. Let’s take a look at what to expect in 2018.

Catcher – Mike Zunino

Two years removed from a horrendous 2015 season in which he hit .174/.230/.300, Mike Zunino has settled in behind the plate for the Seattle Mariners, posting a solid 3.6 fWAR while hitting .251/.331/.509 with 25 home runs. While Zunino still strikes out a ton – 36.8% last season – he makes up for it with solid defense behind the plate – ranked 13th in fielding runs by Baseball Prospectus – and is recognized by his peers for handling pitchers well.

This season he is projected by Steamer to hit .224/.298/.450 with 25 HR while catching around 110 games and adding roughly 2.5 WAR to the lineup. Zunino will turn 27 before opening day and agreed to a contract in arbitration for this year of $2.975MM. Barring injuries or any unexpected regressions, the M’s should be above average behind the dish.

First Base – Ryon Healy*

The majority of the plate appearances at first base should be by off-season acquisition, Ryon Healy. Healy, who came over from the Oakland Athletics in November, primarily played third but has played first as well. He is a big guy. Listed at 6’5”, 223, Healy hit .271/.302/.451 with 25 HR in 605 PA for the A’s last season. In a very small sample size, Healy seemed to be about league average defensively at 1B with one defensive run saved in 307.1 innings. At his size, he was expectedly below average at 3B, so the switch to 1B may generate more WAR for the Mariners than Healy did for the A’s last season, that being 0.2.

Ideally, it would be nice if Healy walked more – just 3.8% of the time last season for the A’s – which would improve his below average OBP of .302. Perhaps the M’s emphasis on “controlling the zone” could pay dividends this Spring. Steamer projects Healy to hit .259/.297/.430 with 16 HR and 0.1 WAR in 110 games. Depth Charts projections are a bit more bullish on Healy’s playing time at 140 games, but the same slash line of .259/.297/.430, albeit with 21 HR and 0.3 WAR.

However, many scouts have noted that Healy changed his mechanics in 2017 and that the power on display last year is legit, thus discounting many of the projection systems that predict major regression.

Playing on a pre-arbitration eligible contract in 2018 at age 26, Healy could either be a big surprise for the Mariners at 1B or the decided weak link in an otherwise top infield.

Second Base – Robinson Cano

In 2017, the fourth year of his ten year $240MM contract, at age 34, Robinson Cano remained productive at second base. Ranked ninth in the majors for the position in fWAR at 3.2, Cano hit .280/.338/.453 with 23 HR. His hitting and average defense – exactly zero DRS last season – made Cano one of only three Mariners hitters with 3 or more WAR. The other two being Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

For his age 35 season, Steamer projects Cano to put up a stat line very similar to last season – .282/.339/.470 with 25 HR, a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 116, roughly 16% better than league average, and a 3.1 WAR.

However, despite the above average numbers at his position, Cano is no longer one of the premiere hitters in the game. The 2017 campaign saw Cano post the second lowest wRC+ of his career. (The lowest of 86 came in 2008 with the New York Yankees was fueled by a .151 BA in April and speculation that he may have been injured and/or feeling the pressure of a new contract extension.) He also posted the third lowest WAR of his career, the others being that very same 2008 season and his second season with the Mariners when he battled an abdomen injury much of the season.

It’s interesting and possibly alarming that one of the most recent comps for a hitter of Cano’s profile, according to Baseball Reference, is former Texas Ranger 3B, SS, and 2B Michael Young. Young fell off precipitously at age 35, losing nearly seventy points off his lifetime SLG, dipping below .400, and retiring after his age 36 season. Cano isn’t going to retire with four or five years left on his contract, but then maybe the severity of Young’s drop off isn’t in the cards either, but a drop off is coming. But, for 2017, Cano should continue to be one of the best 2B in the league.

Shortstop – Jean Segura

In his first season with the Mariners, Jean Segura, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Taijuan Walker deal, produced 2.9 fWAR at shortstop. While that contribution fell short of what will more than likely end up being his career best 5.0 fWAR from the season before in the desert, last season’s contribution in the middle infield was a major upgrade in the Emerald City.

Segura hit .300/.349/.427 with 80 runs and 22 SB. The 20 HR from the 2016 campaign in Arizona was probably an outlier, but he still managed 11 dingers in a shortened season of 125 games due to early injuries.

This season, Steamer projects Segura to hit .275/.323/.404, which seems a bit conservative given the previous two seasons of over 1200 plate appearances. Segura clearly changed his approach in 2016 and projections trending more back to the light hitter of pre-2016 seem out of whack. With the launch angle and exit velocity revolution of the past few seasons, it’s reasonable to accept up-ticks in contact and power as more legit than in the past. Even with the conservative projection, the 2.0 WAR at SS will ensure the Mariners have one of the more productive middle infields in baseball.

Third Base – Kyle Seager

It’s funny how four years after signing Kyle Seager to a seven year $100MM deal that seven-year deals seem a thing of the past but $14.3MM per year seems like a bargain. Entering his thirties, Kyle Seager has been eclipsed by his younger brother, Corey Seager, in Los Angeles, but remains a solid fixture at the hot corner.

In 2017, Seager struggled at the plate, hitting a career low .248, with his second lowest OBP of .323, and a .450 slugging percentage that reversed a three year upward trend. Still his 3.5 fWAR ranked third in the AL and 8th in all of baseball at third base.

While a return to 2016 form when Seager generated 5.5 fWAR and a 132 wRC+ would be welcome, Steamer does project a slight bounce back for Seager, predicting a slash line of .262/.338/.469 with 26 HR and a 116 wRC+, up 10 points from 2017. And, like his compatriots to the left of the diamond (or maybe the right in a shift), Seager is an average glove at third with 11 DRS in his 8,545.1 innings over seven seasons. Thus, third base finishes out what should be one of the better infields in baseball.

Infield Grade A-/B+

Definitely the strength of the 2018 Seattle Mariners lies with it’s infield play. While there are no plus defenders, the infield is solidly average with no serious liabilities. The upside over most major league rosters comes at the plate. In Zunino, Cano, Segura, and Seager, the Mariners could legitimately have four 3+ WAR players in the infield. The question mark is Healy at first. The projection models are skeptical, but we do seem to be in an era where approaches at the plate are changing with the advent of Trackcast and the identification of exit velocity and launch angles. Look for Healy to perhaps outplay his computer model projections and insure Seattle has all 2+ WAR players in the infield for 2018.

*Editor’s Note – Ryon Healy is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right hand – ESPN

Trio Of Portland MMA Prospects Have Big Opportunities Upcoming

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Trio Of Portland MMA Prospects Have Big Opportunities Upcoming

BY DAVID GOLDEN

Three of Portland’s most promising young fighters will be stepping into the cage each of the next three weekends. Journey Newson, Thomas Patrick, and Cris “Sunshine” Williams all have a lot on the line in their upcoming bouts. As these young fighters are ready for war, spectators will be able to watch things unfold week to week. Let’s take a closer look at the upcoming matchups.

Saturday February 17th –

First up is Impact Jiu Jitsu’s Journey Newson. Newson has been on quite the tear lately having won three fights in row by stoppage. In addition to that, he secured the CageSport Bantamweight Title in his last outing. Newson has a lot on the line in this fight as he is set to make his promotional debut for Combat Games MMA (COGA). COGA is a new stage for him, and it will certainly mean more eyes on the young Oregonian. At 6-1, he is likely two or three wins away from a call up to a top organization, so there is a lot on the line with each fight. On Saturday, he will be facing another fast-rising prospect in Tycen Lynn. Lynn is a Seattle based fighter who is also coming into this matchup with three straight victories.  As the two prospects collide, this fight will certainly carry a lot of weight moving forward for the young pros.

Saturday February 24th –   

A week later, one of Gracie Barra Portland’s young fighters looks to secure his first professional win as Thomas Patrick takes on Jake Sebastian at Dominate FC 40. Patrick made his professional debut last year in a violent back and forth affair. After coming up short, he has regrouped and is back to try and claim his first pro victory. With a strong jiu jitsu and wrestling game, Patrick has the skills to dominate this fight from bell to bell. His opponent, Jake Sebastian, is a relative unknown. After a three-fight amateur career, Sebastian is turning pro. While he will not have as much experience to lean on, he will have the advantage of Patrick not knowing as much about his MMA background. Patrick is hungry for victory; his very well-rounded fight game combined with an extensive amateur background should help him secure the win.

Friday March 2nd –   

Last up is Cris “Sunshine” Williams. Williams will be making his second appearance in the Bellator MMA cage at Bellator 195. After a quick win in his Bellator debut this past December, Williams is back in the cage just three months later. Bellator has a budding star in the uber charismatic Williams, and they know it. A win for him is a win for Bellator who will likely look to bring along the young fighter slowly. If he can build his resume in the same way his teammate Brent Primus did, he could put himself into title contention by 2020. His matchup at Bellator 195 is a favorable one as he takes on Daniel “Lil Scarey” Carey. Carey has good power in his hands, but is far too susceptible to takedowns and has poor head movement. The athleticism of Williams is likely to overwhelm Carey. Expect to see “Sunshine” get his hand raised in this one.

How to watch! 

COGA 60 – Tulalip, WA – Tulalip Resort Casino – Watch online at Combatgamesmma.com

Dominate FC 40 – Olympia, WA – Nisqually Youth & Event Center – Tickets available at Squareup.com

Bellator 195 – Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino Resort – Watch online at Bellator.com

NBCS Northwest launches The Bridge - Region's first daily primetime sports talk show

NBCS Northwest launches The Bridge - Region's first daily primetime sports talk show

NBC Sports Northwest today announced the launch of The Bridge, a new daily one-hour talk show about Pacific Northwest sports, with a dose of pop culture and lifestyle. NBC Sports Northwest’s first year-round original program, The Bridge will air weeknights at 6 p.m. ET, with the exception of Trail Blazers game nights.

A multi-platform interactive conversation, The Bridge will debate the sports teams, players and stories that matter, while also celebrating the passions unique to the Northwest. Coverage will highlight all major market clubs, including the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Seattle Seahawks and Portland Timbers. The Bridge premieres Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest, preceding Rip City Live and the Blazers’ home game against the Warriors.

Analyst and NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio host Aaron Fentress hosts The Bridge, alongside NBC Sports Northwest’s newest member Serena Winters. Winters joins NBC Sports Northwest from Lakers Nation, where she served as the lead reporter and media editor-in-chief. Bri Amaranthus, NBC Sports Northwest’s social media manager, also joins The Bridge as a contributor.

“Northwest sports fans are a passionate, creative and diverse group, and they deserve a gathering place where they can engage with their favorite sports,” said Len Mead, General Manager of NBC Sports Northwest. “With Aaron, Serena and Bri we can start talking with our fans online early in the day, and culminate that conversation on TV every night at 6 p.m. PT before the night in sports gets going.”

In addition to co-hosting the Dwight & Aaron show on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio, Fentress serves as an analyst on NBC Sports Northwest’s Talkin’ Ducks and Oregon Ducks Insider, and regularly contributes to nbcsports.com/northwest.

Winters joins the Portland area from Los Angeles where she worked for six years as a full-time reporter for Lakers Nation. During her tenure, her posts garnered over 50 million views and 150,000 subscribers. A UCSB alum, Winters has conducted interviews with numerous NBA legends, including Kobe Bryant and Elgin Baylor.

Amaranthus, a reporter and social media correspondent for NBC Sports Northwest, contributes multimedia content to Northwest’s coverage of the Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers and Portland Trail Blazers. An Oregon native, Amaranthus also hosts Sports Talk Live and DuckSquad, and manages NBC Sports Northwest’s social media platforms.

Fans can interact with The Bridge live on Twitter via @NBCSNorthwest and on NBC Sports Northwest’s Facebook page.

Edgar Martinez Snubbed Again – Why We Shouldn’t Be Shocked

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Edgar Martinez Snubbed Again – Why We Shouldn’t Be Shocked

Once a year, thousands of baseball fans flock to the small town of Cooperstown, New York to see legends of the game give a speech, unveil a plaque that semi-resembles them, and get congratulated by their fellow legends of America’s pastime. Baseball fans undoubtedly care more about their Hall of Fame than any other sport. In a sport loved by historians, it makes sense that fans love to honor all-time greats. But today, we sit in an uncomfortable intersection for Hall of Fame voting; where Twitter clashes with tradition, saber metrics collides with folklore, and stupidity reigns supreme.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) has been around since 1908 and founded the Hall of Fame in 1936. The first class of inductees featured Ty Cobb (98.2%), Honus Wagner (95.1%) and Babe Ruth (95.1%).  Yes, you are reading that correctly. Babe freaking Ruth wasn’t voted a Hall of Famer by one of every twenty voters.  This strange behavior by writers has persisted since the Hall’s inception and doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.

There are currently 422 voting members of the BBWAA. They range from TV personalities that occupy bad daytime ESPN shows to less famous people such as Joe Stiglich of the Contra Costa Times.  It’s understandable that back in the Great Depression era it was decided that baseball writers had the best perspective of who belonged in the Hall of Fame. Without television, the internet, or even Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball for N64, writers were clearly the best equipped individuals for the job. It’s not a tough argument to make that this is no longer the case. Steven Souza Jr. of the Tampa Bay Rays agrees, as he recently put a Rays beat writer on notice for his snub of Edgar Martinez. With newspapers dying and beat writers covering a host of assignments, it’s plan to see that many voters are under-qualified to be making decisions regarding players they’ve never seen play, in a sport they may have never themselves played or coached.

For those that followed the Edgar Martinez saga over the past handful of weeks, Twitter was the predominant platform.  Each writer that revealed their ballot had it blasted over the Twitterverse for all to critique. Percentages were tracked, votes were counted, math was done. Would Edger get in?  This all seemed silly, fixed, and disingenuous.  Twitter debates ensued over whether a DH should be eligible. Mariano Rivera voiced his opinion that Edgar was the best hitter he ever faced. Votes were tallied. And  some writer named Randy Galloway determined Edgar wasn’t a Hall-of-Famer THIS year in his eyes, but would be NEXT year. How that decision is arrived at, one can only speculate. But, it would be naïve to think that some of Randy’s BBWAA peers don’t share his same school of thought.

Baseball writers voting for the Hall of Fame is the equivalent of the general manager from each AMC Movie Theatre voting for the Oscars. Not this years Oscars, but specifically for all movies that left theaters at least five years ago.

The process of deciding who belongs in Cooperstown is due for some tweaking. Ideas?  Former players and executives, 20-30 predominant baseball historians (ie Tim Kurkjian), and current Hall-of-Famers should comprise the voting. A popular fan vote could even contribute five to ten percent of the equation.  Whoever is voting should all do so on the same day. No more vote counting and tracking, where ballots are revealed prior to everyone finishing their voting.

The system will never be perfect, but there is room for improvement. A change in process isn’t likely to happen soon, or ever. The BBSAA started the Hall of Fame and will be reluctant to give up even a portion of their power. Until that hypothetical day occurs, Edgar is on the fence to make it, Mike Trout won’t receive 100% of the vote in 2035, and beat writers will continue to cast their ballot based on what will get them trending on Twitter and possibly a guest appearance on Around the Horn.

Go see the Tonya Harding movie for a lesson in revisionist history

Go see the Tonya Harding movie for a lesson in revisionist history

After making time to see most of this season's quality films, I decided Saturday night to take a chance on "I, Tonya" -- what's being generously termed a "biopic" of Tonya Harding.

In actuality, it should be branded "historical fiction."

This story couldn't have been more sympathetic to Tonya if she'd written it herself. My former colleague at The Oregonian, Julie Vader, did an outstanding job of pointing out all the inaccuracies in the movie. I recommend reading it. Vader, along with reporter Abby Haight, were the experts on Tonya Harding -- off the ice and on. In those days, I admit I wasn't much interested in writing about beauty contests on ice -- my cynical take on a sport long known for its ridiculous "judging" --  although I did write about Harding once in a while.

In fact, I was one who was against barring her from the Olympics when she had not yet had her day in court. Then, I remember ripping her because when she finally got to Lillihammer, Norway, and the Winter Games, she didn't even attempt her signature triple axel. On the biggest stage, she didn't have the intestinal fortitude to even go for it -- which is not exactly the Olympic ideal.

I also remember driving to a casino on the coast to watch one of her "boxing" matches. Ugh. She certainly wasn't the fighter this movie tried to portray. It was a mess:

Against Emily Gosa in Lincoln City, Oregon, she was roundly booed upon entering the arena. “The entire fight barely rose above the level of a drunken street brawl,” The Independent reported.

The New York Times famously chimed in on this movie -- and Harding -- recently with a headline that read "Tonya Harding Would Like Her Apology Now." The piece includes a quote from Harding that pretty much sums up her attitude and intellect:

“I moved from Oregon to Washington because Oregon was buttheads,” she said.

But this movie attempts to glorify her and rationalize her -- a convicted felon who plea-bargained her way out of bigger trouble and never served a day behind bars for it.

I am not surprised. We live in an age of revisionist history and a lot of people who aren't interested in seeking out the real truth. More and more I'm seeing attempts being made to paint the early 1990s "Jail Blazers" as a lovable bunch of rogues who were unfairly characterized by a racist media. Sorry, but that's very wrong.

But go see if the Harding movie if you want a few laughs. Margot Robbie and particularly Allison Janney are very good. There are a few chuckles -- mixed with some nasty scenes of spousal and child abuse that, along with a whole lot of gratuitous profanity, make the movie totally unacceptable for kids.

Portland Fighters Jake Smith And Tyree Fortune To Make Bellator Debuts Friday At Bellator 193

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Portland Fighters Jake Smith And Tyree Fortune To Make Bellator Debuts Friday At Bellator 193

BY: DAVID GOLDEN

With Bellator 193 just two days away, a pair of Portland-based fighters are set to make their promotional debuts. Jake Smith and Tyree Fortune are two of the rising stars coming out of Gracie Barra Portland. Head coach Fabiano Scherner has turned the once small Jiu Jitsu school into a mixed martial arts powerhouse, with Smith and Fortune being two of the hottest prospects. After a successful promotional debut by their teammate, Cris “Sunshine” Williams, last month at Bellator 189, Smith and Fortune will look to keep the rising stars of Gracie Barra Portland undefeated in the Bellator cage. The pair will have their hands full for their debuts and neither has an easy road ahead. Let’s take a look at the matchups and discuss just what we can expect to see from the two of them this Friday.

Tyree “X-Man” Fortune vs. Michael “The Brown Tiger” Quintero  

This matchup seems to be rather favorable for Fortune. One half of the Fabulous Fighting Fortune brothers (Tyree’s twin brother, Tyrell, also fights for Bellator), Fortune has a very strong wrestling background. As a senior at Lakeridge High School in Lake Oswego, he was the state runner up in both Freestyle and Greco Roman wrestling. This is a problem for his opponent, Michael Quintero. Quintero is a very large light heavyweight who has not always shown great ability to stop the takedown. In many of his fights, his takedown defense was solely based on strength (of which he has plenty), and he allowed his opponents to win the positional battle. However, even out of position, he was able to use his strength to stay standing. This will not work against a wrestler the caliber of Fortune. Fortune’s takedowns are often paired with explosive striking and quick returns to the takedown attempt. These tools will make it difficult for his opponent to avoid the mat. Quintero does possess dangerous power and should Fortune leave himself exposed, it could end violently for the young prospect. Beyond that, Quintero is a very coachable athlete; he does an excellent job of listening to his corner and making adjustments. If he and Fortune end up in a stalemate, he may be able to turn the tables on Fortune if his corner can walk him through the position. Quintero has good straight punches and knees from the clinch but he his lack of speed will likely make both of these tools even more situational.

Prediction: Fortune takes it by 2nd round TKO

Jake “The Half Black Attack” Smith vs. Steve “Thunderbeast” Kozola

This fight is almost certain to bring fireworks. Both Smith and Kozola have a penchant for striking and knockout power to go along with it. Kozola has the edge in experience, having fought for Bellator four times already. He is 3-1 with the promotion but is coming off his first professional defeat. The loss showed a hole in Kozola’s game, as his opponent put him on the mat and kept him there throughout the fight. Smith would be wise to keep an eye open for the takedown but, like Kozola, his bread and butter is his striking so don’t expect to see him shoot in on Kozola too early. Kozola is a larger lightweight, so any size advantage Smith was looking for coming down from welterweight will not be there. Kozola brings good speed and accurate strikes when throwing in the pocket but has shown a lack of head movement and wild strikes coming in and backing out of exchanges. He will need to keep his strikes disciplined if he hopes to work his game effectively against Smith. Smith has very sharp striking and excellent head movement on his feet. Expect to see Smith try and use accurate counter strikes as Kozola comes in and heavy leg kicks when they are striking at a distance. Smith can at times over extend in exchanges if he is looking for the knockout; in the past, he has taken some unnecessary damage as a result. While Smith is known as a fighter who likes to stand and trade, my gut tells me he will look to exploit Kozola’s wrestling deficiency.

Prediction: Smith by unanimous decision   

This Card takes place this Friday on the all-new Paramount Network (Formerly Spike TV). Jake Smith is the first fight on the main card so be sure to set your DVR for the event. Tyree Fortune will be on the undercard, which will air live on Bellator.com

Bellator.com Prelims – 4:55pm PST

Bellator 193 Main Card, Paramount Network – 6:00pm PST

Mariner CEO seems a little concerned about MLB in Portland

Mariner CEO seems a little concerned about MLB in Portland

John Stanton, the CEO of the Seattle Mariners, paid a visit to Portland last week -- a rare move for someone that high up the team's organizational ladder. I'm not sure why he showed up here but I have a hunch it was to deliver a message.

I believe Stanton wanted to make sure everybody here understands that he considers Portland part of the Mariners' territory -- and he wants to throw a little cold water on this city's thoughts about acquiring a major-league baseball team. There is a local group working behind the scenes on bringing MLB to Portland and the sports' commissioner has mentioned this city as a possible expansion site.

From Stanton:

“Success and a sustainable position very much depends on the size of your market,” he said. “Seattle is already one of the smallest markets in terms of population and the smallest market in the AL West, adding that San Diego was the smallest market in the NL West and that “Portland would be smaller than both.”

“If I were in Portland’s position, I would look at what it would take to generate the revenues to be successful, and that is a challenge,” said Stanton.

I was amused to see this man try to paint Seattle as a small market.  That metropolitan area is listed as the No. 12 market in the country -- which, obviously, is anything but small. Portland has moved up from No. 24 to No. 22 recently and is moving upward. But even now, Portland's market is bigger than existing MLB franchises located in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas CIty, Cincinnati, San Diego and Milwaukee. Portland is also listed ninth in future growth rate among MLB cities.

Stanton is rightly concerned with the impact an MLB team in Portland would have on the Mariners. But I would suggest he should fret a little more about the possibility of the NHL and NBA coming to his town soon. The M's have been struggling at the gate for a few seasons now and the presence of two more major-league franchises in a city already crowded with them -- plus the University of Washington -- is likely to result in revenue declines in other sports.

But good luck up there in your tiny little hamlet. John. Portland has been helping prop up your franchise for decades and perhaps it's getting close to a time for your city to return the favor.

 

Location, Location, Location? More like financing, financing, financing

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Location, Location, Location? More like financing, financing, financing

There is an interesting piece in the New York Times about modern stadiums and the new philosophy behind stadium and arena construction for major-league sports.

I think the Times missed the story by just a bit, though. The prime focus for their story was that stadiums are moving downtown, rather than to suburbs. That's been going on for quite a while, though. And I believe the real story is not the location, which is not nearly as important as the way these venues are being financed. In Atlanta, for instance, one of the ballparks that best symbolizes the new trend is the one the Braves built in Cobb County, after moving out of downtown Atlanta.

The real driving force for today's modern stadium/arena/ballpark is to secure the area around it and build mixed-use retail and residential that helps defray costs of construction and provides sources to service the construction debt. It's going on everywhere.

... Across the country, in more than a dozen cities, downtowns are being remade as developers abandon the suburbs to combine new sports arenas with mixed-used residential, retail and office space back in the city. The new projects are altering the financial formula for building stadiums and arenas by surrounding them not with mostly idle parking lots in suburban expanses, but with revenue-producing stores, offices and residences capable of servicing the public debt used to help build these venues.

It used to be that groups trying to sell cities or counties on providing public funding for venues, tried to sell the idea that a downtown stadium would revitalize sections of town and provide economic development. But it was a tough sell. Now, though, the franchises are doing their own development.

The property development model is a foundation of  the construction of the new basketball arena in Sacramento -- which did move from the suburbs to downtown.The San Francisco Giants are preparing to spend $1.4 billion developing a parcel near AT&T Park. SunTrust Park in Cobb County, Ga., remains a shining example of the new philosophy, with the ballpark construction including  "The Battery Atlanta." Los Angeles' Staples Center, of course, is located across the street from "LA Live."

There have been attempts to construct such a district near the Rose Quarter but they never got off the ground, mainly because of ill-advised moves that left Memorial Coliseum untouched and standing. But what would have been -- a lively entertainment district featuring retail, housing, nightclubs and a (once-proposed) Nike sports museum -- would have changed the face of that district. It was to be called "Jumptown."

The mistake that was made with the Rose Quarter, of course, was that the entertainment/housing district should have been built in concert with the arena.  It would have helped Blazer owner Paul Allen recoup much of his investment in the project and given Portland a lively new place to see and be seen.

Something any city would welcome.

The Hulk Vs. Hercules – Johnny James Battles Ray Hill At Rumble At The Roseland 96

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The Hulk Vs. Hercules – Johnny James Battles Ray Hill At Rumble At The Roseland 96

BY PORTLAND MMA

Fight week is finally among us!! The FCFF is once again starting off the new year with another great card. 2018 will mark a big year for the FCFF as it will mark its 100th event later this year. The FCFF’s Rumble at the Roseland 96 has been relatively quiet leading up to fight week.

This Friday, weigh-ins for Rumble 96 will take place at Bridge City Fight Shop. The weigh-in event will start at 7pm sharp. With currently twelve fights scheduled, twenty four fighters are expected to weigh-in that night.

 

Johnny James Vs. Raymond Hill

Saturday’s main event features a Super Fight between Johnny James and Raymond Hill. Hill came in on less than two weeks notice to fight James. Originally, current champion Alex Aguilar was scheduled to defend his title against Johnny James until he had to pull out due to an injury. Ray Hill hasn’t stepped foot into the cage for almost one year exactly to the day. Hill was supposed to fight Alex Aguilar back in September, but unfortunately had to pull out of that fight due to family reasons. Although he’s on a 3-fight win streak, ring rust could be an issue. Hill will definitely be looking to finish this fight to get his shot once again against Aguilar. Hill is currently 6-1 and ranked #2 in the Northwest in the Welterweight division. I believe he will be willing to stand toe to toe with Johnny James in the slammer. If he can stay on his toes while avoiding James’ punches, I believe he has a good chance. Ray Hill is a tough competitor and will be a great test for Johnny James.

Johnny James is on a two fight win streak after a dominate performance against Saul Ruiz. We should see his full potential in Saturday’s matchup against Ray Hill. Johnny James has shown he has real power in his striking. The one draw back from all of James’ power, is it does leave him open to a counter-punch. Will he be quick enough to get the open shots he needs, though, is the question. Given Hill hasn’t had a full camp to prepare, cardio could be an issue. If the fight lasts till the later rounds, James should have the advantage. One thing is for sure, if he does connect with one of his monster strikes, it will spell trouble for Ray Hill.

I don’t expect this fight to go to the ground at all. With a combined eight knockouts between these two fighters (four Knockouts a piece), this should be a very exciting and intense fight between these two fighters. I don’t believe this fight will reach the 5th round and will end in exciting fashion!

You can still purchase tickets, but seats are getting scarce. You can find tickets at Cascade Tickets or forgo the surcharges and pick them up at Bridge City Fight Shop! Doors open at 6 and the fights will start at 7pm.

 

Bellator 192 to be shown at Rumble 96

The FCFF is a huge supporter of Bellator fighter Chael Sonnen (who also happens to be co-owner of the FCFF). Sonnen is scheduled to fight the same night as Rumble at the Roseland 96 is taking place. The American Gangster and Rampage Jackson are set to kick off the Bellator World Grand Prix, the first fight of many to crown the next Bellator Heavyweight Champion. To support Sonnen, the FCFF will be playing the Bellator card during Saturday’s Rumble 96. Your ticket purchase will get you into the bar to watch both the FCFF event and also Bellator’s live broadcast.