Today in sports: The threat of cartel violence reportedly cost El Paso a chance to host boxing's middleweight title fight in June, the San Francisco Giants think they've developed the biggest thing since Moneyball, and the second night of the NFL Draft now has a lovable underdog.
Plans to hold the June 16 middleweight title fight between Ireland's Andy Lee and Mexico's Julio César Chávez Jr. at the Sun Bowl in El Paso were abruptly scrapped earlier this week, reportedly after a risk assessment report prepared by Homeland Security Investigations warned the boxing match would draw leaders from the rival Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels. A law enforcement source says the report, which was given to the University of Texas El Paso police department, stated that the cartels had already agreed to make Sun Devil Stadium a "neutral zone" on fight night, but concluded the 40,000 seat facility would face a "higher than normal" security threat by hosting the bout. That apparently was enough for UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, who unilaterally decided to cancel the fight on Wednesday, much to the dismay of El Paso mayor John Cook, who said the decision will cost the city $4.5 million in lost revenue. Promoters are now looking for another venue in Texas -- possibly in the Houston-area -- that's willing and able to host the fight on such short notice. [AP and El Paso Times]
Sportvision -- the Bay Area company that developed the yellow first down line projected on the field during football broadcasts -- has been working with the San Francisco Giants on a motion-tracking technology called Fieldf/x that might be -- might be -- the biggest thing since sabermetrics. Or it could be a bust. Here's how the Giants are using their new secret sauce:
Fieldf/x, which the Giants are fully deploying for the first time this year, tracks the hit ball and the defensive players as they react to it. For the first time since baseball statistics have been kept — we are talking 150 years — baseball statisticians will soon have objective data on how quickly fielders react to balls in play, how fast they get to the ball, and the accuracy and location of their throws.
On deck for the Giants [is] Controlf/x, which shows precisely where a pitch goes in relation to the spot where the catcher sets the target. Some catchers are better at framing a pitch for the umpires...resulting in more strike calls, which in turn leads to as many as 20 extra outs a season. It does not sound like much, but it equates to two extra wins a season and potentially millions of dollars in extra revenue.
Interesting! But as Billy Beane and the Oakland A's learned post-Moneyball, systems for uncovering undervalued talents lose their luster once franchises with the money to overpay for undervalued talents learn your secret. So hopefully the Giants patented something. [The New York Times]
Detroit Tigers outfielder Delmon Young was arrested outside the Hilton New York early Friday morning, allegedly after he pushed a man to the ground and made unspecified anti-Semitic remarks.The Detroit Free Press reports Young is facing an “aggravated harassment hate crime" charge, and that the alleged incident involved "a group of four men and a panhandler wearing a yarmulke." Sources tell The New York Post that Young was "highly intoxicated," to the point that he was taken to Roosevelt Hospital "to sober up" before being booked. The Tigers are in New York for a three-game series against the Yankees. As of this afternoon, the team still hasn't commented on the arrest. [Hardball Talk]
Paul Allen apparently didn't know about or didn't care about the NFL's crackdown on draft night pick-tipping. Via Twitter, the Seattle Seahawks owner scooped commissioner Roger Goodell on the first 15 selections Thursday, until he lost interest or -- more likely -- someone in the league office told him to knock it off. [via PFT]
Speaking of the NFL Draft, you now have someone to root for -- really for -- on night two: Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who someone claiming to be a member of the Cincinnati Bengals front office called last night to tell him he was about to be taken with the 27th pick. It turns out the caller didn't work for the Bengals: he was just some stray jerk, which was confirmed when the Bengals chose Wisconsin guard Tyler Zeller. Sports Illustrated's Peter King reports Sanu told his agent Mike McCartney "not to worry about him, he'd be fine, and some team will draft him and get a good player." Which is true, but an admirable sentiment to express after being successfully pranked on the biggest night of your life. [SI.com]
Pep Guardiola is stepping down as head coach of Barcelona after four years, during which he led the club two Champions League championships and three Spanish league crowns. Barcelona lost to Chelsea in the Champions League semifinals earlier in the week. [AP]