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]