Foley's Friday Mailbag: June 15, 2012
T.R. Foley, InterMat Senior Writer
firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @trfoley
InterMat senior writer T.R. Foley answers reader questions about NCAA wrestling, international wrestling, recruiting, or anything loosely related to wrestling. You have until Thursday night every week to send questions to Foley's Twitter or email account.
Q: I want to read the article on the "Grapple in the Apple." Would you mind sending me your InterMat Platinum password?
-- You and everyone else I know (including my mother)
Foley: I did it, too.
When I was a coach some of my friends, coworkers, and even guys on my team would share the same password to access InterMat's Platinum service. Of course, I understand now that I was essentially stealing information. (Ed. Note: InterMat now tracks Platinum logins by IP address. Those who share passwords (i.e. abuse their privileges) will have their Platinum service revoked without refund in accordance with InterMat's Member Service Agreement.)
I know that it's frustrating for users to land on the site to check out something they want only to be bested by a pay wall, but wanting to access the information in its own way validates that you should pay for it. The guys who run InterMat are already incredibly generous with the content they give away for free. The same type of specialization and analysis in lacrosse, golf, and basketball costs money for readers, usually big money. Even users of ESPN find themselves on the wrong side of the Insider when trying to learn more details about sports like MMA and college baseball.
Trust me, I KNOW that you don't want to pay for news, information, and analysis. I GET IT. But buying Platinum is also a free-market exercise in showing your support for the sport. Guys like Lowe could make MUCH better money analyzing the bond market, or New York real estate prices, but he instead entertains us with his insane analysis of high school sports because he's passionate about the sport.
We are always looking to add more value to the Platinum service without making the site off-limits to passer-bys. Should things go as planned, we'll be launching a new Platinum series that will be sure to cause some great debate and include factoids and research you won't want to miss. The high school rankings, Fargo breakdowns, and recruiting updates will also be updated throughout the year, along with exclusive interviews and the best analysis on the Web.
At less than $1 per week I'm sure you'll find that platinum is a low-cost a service you'll use enough to find valuable.
(This was the same argument that worked for my mother ... )
Q: What did you think about the Grapple in the Apple? Any thoughts on Coleman Scott and Shawn Bunch?
-- Trevor L.
Foley: You can read all about my thoughts once you get Platinum!
The gist is that wrestling promotions are doing well to grab primary, secondary, and tertiary forms of media coverage when they host the BTS events in NYC. For example there was the actual taping of the event, then the stories about the results (local and national), and then analysis about what it all means or even just the guys who are responsible for running the show. The event also generated a bunch of dosh which will help expand BTS to LA, which in turn creates new wrestlers, new media and new fans. Overall: Winner, winner.
Is it OK to go back in time and write that I KNEW Coleman Scott was going to win it all? I want to do that, because I thought he would, but statistically he seemed like a long shot. Maybe John Smith said it best when he told me that the reason Scott would win it is because he's had the toughest road. True, he did, but I have to think it also has something to do with having that much talent and dedication being ON. Zeke Jones, independent of Smith's comments, said before the wrestle-off that he expected the 60-kilo spot to be a highlight for the 2012 Olympic Team regardless of the representative for precisely the same reasons Smith thought Scott was going to achieve: TOUGHEST ROAD. By wrestling with what Jones called a "chip on their shoulder," Scott will be in position to take a home medal. Don't get me wrong, it's a long shot in a stacked weight class that includes four-time World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia, but Scott is now part of what makes that weight stacked.
Coleman Scott defeated Shawn Bunch with a five-point move in the third match (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)The final move against Bunch became one of the most dramatic finishes to any wrestling event I've ever attended. You can't script the drama of wrestling (which is part of why scripted wrestling does so well -- you can guarantee the drama), so when Scott lifted Bunch for the win AND the Olympic spot it was tough to not cheer. I felt like I was cheering the event itself, that I was somehow enraptured not because I have any connection to Coleman Scott (I don't) but because EVERYTHING FELL EXACTLY INTO PLACE. Wrestling isn't known for catching a lot of great PR breaks, but that moment was a big break and would there have been a highlight by Universal Sports I think we would have seen it on SportsCenter's Top Ten plays. We could have at least hope for it to be passed around the Internet in much the same way as the Flying Squirrel.
I also feel heartbroken for Bunch. He's talented and with some training and patience could hold off for another four years. My prediction is that we'll lose him to MMA, and while that hurts America in the short term, it does allow another young stud (LOGAN STIEBER, LOGAN STIEBER, LOGAN STIEBER) to earn more mat time with the coaches and earn better money once he's out of college.
Final note on Bunch. His loss was horrific enough, but became even more so when he ran off the mat to be alone (force of habit for losing wrestlers everywhere), but found himself standing in the middle of Times Square. It's a nightmare sequence and I still feel bad when thinking of what he (and Reece Humphrey) must be going through right now. They gave it their all, and while they fell short, I'm sure I speak for many in the wrestling community when I say we are proud of their efforts. It's their competitive spirit that will help elevate Scott to a higher place on the Olympic podium.
Final thought: Has there been a more likable cast of characters assembled for a U.S. Olympic Team?
Q: Is Zain Retherford going to have a high school to wrestle for next season?
Foley: Word is that he'll be wrestling at Benton.
Q: Did you see the Pacquiao-Bradley screwjob? Can you think of a wrestling match where someone got jobbed that bad?
-- Geoff W.
Foley: There is a significant difference in the structure of a boxing match which makes it much more offensive when someone like Pacquiao gets robbed. There are JUDGES, where in NCAA wrestling we just have a referee. Single humans can miss action, two judges seeing a fight the wrong way is almost certainly indicative of collusion. Americans can forgive mistakes. We have a tougher time forgiving people who intentionally try to screw us.
Before I answer the wrestling portion of the question I did have friends place HEFTY bets on Bradley before the fight at +450 and walked away with enough money to buy 545 Platinum subscriptions. Another friend bought out of his Bradley bet in the 12th round because he was certain that Pacquiao had won. Ouch! (Secretly it makes me happy.)
Many believe Johny Hendricks was pinned by Ryan Churella in the NCAA finals in 2006 (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)The worst screwjob is recent NCAA wrestling probably belongs to Gary Kessel's non-call in the 2006 NCAA Division I finals at 165 pounds. Ryan Churella (Michigan) decked Johny Hendricks (Oklahoma State) in the second period, but Kessel was out of place, or just had a brief lapse in concentration and missed the call. Kessel caught some bad attention for his mistake because Churella went on to lose the match. But it was actually Hendricks who came out having lost the most. Maybe because Okie State was wrestling well, or his brash demeanor rubbed fans the wrong way, but Hendricks became the most hated wrestler of the aughties.
Since then he's transitioned into MMA where he's one of the top welterweights in the world and fans don't just like him, they LOVE him (his nickname is the Happy Beard Guy). The reactions of the fans in 2006 might have cost wrestling something in the long term as well. In a recent interview with
FIGHT! Magazine, the two-time NCAA champion said that the reason he didn't pursue the Olympics was because of the way he was treated by our fans. Why would he sacrifice his career for people who didn't respect his commitment?
Internationally there have been so many American wrestlers hosed by Russian and European referees that it would be difficult to narrow it down to just one. I seem to recall that Mo Lawal was absolutely robbed in the semifinals of the 2005 World Championships where he eventually placed seventh. Lawal became so disenfranchised by the flippant way in which decisions were made in international wrestling that after a failed run at earning the Olympic spot in 2008 he moved over to MMA, and recently he also signed a contract with the professional wrestling organization TNA. He seems happy.
Mixed martial arts aren't immune to bad decisions either (though most of them seem to surround Cecil Peoples). The biggest robbery in recent MMA history was Nam Phan vs. Leonard Garcia. Phan DESTROYED Garcia for three rounds, but Garcia was handed a split decision. The fight was so bad that it prompted UFC president Dana White to give Phan a rematch the next year, but only after he railed against bad decisions.
On the whole, bad decisions in judged sports are rare. If Pacquiao had won maybe we'd finally get to see the fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. As it stands now, he'll have to re-fight Bradley and keep his fingers crossed that Mayweather makes it back from prison. Should that happen we could be in for quite the main event, though one has to suspect the fix is already in. The estimated takeaway for the two fighters is expected to break $100 million.
(If you want a pretty cool explanation of where the Bradley-Pacquiao fight ranks against other boxing jobs, check out the animated podcast by Slate and Deadspin.com.)
Battle of the Batmen Tournament Edition: Val Kilmer vs. Michael Keaton and George Clooney vs. Christian Bale?
-- D. Thompkins
(Note: Last week Michael Keaton dec. Val Kilmer, 6-1, and moved into the finals.)
Foley: Lets start by looking at Christian Bale's dedication to his craft. The sometimes cantankerous actor shed 60 pounds to play the insomnia-ridden Trevor Reznick in the Machinist. A few years later he repeated the feat when he trimmed 40 pounds to play crack head boxing trainer Dicky Ecklund in The Fighter.
With the vision of Christopher Nolan, Bale has changed what it means to be Batman. The movies are dark and meaty, but the Oscar winner turned a stale character in what could be the best superhero depiction of all time during his performance in the Dark Knight. He also has THE best gravelly Batman Voice.
Did I mention he also once LOST 60 POUNDS FOR A MOVIE ROLE. Wrestlers rejoice. We are not alone.
Batman and Robin was George Clooney's turn in the cape. Look Down and Shake.
Clooney was simply awful.
Bale tech. fall Clooney, 18-3 (2:26)
Next week: Christian Bale vs. Michael Keaton!