YouTube doubler

Yesterday the estimable Jon Bois posted a link to something called YouTube doubler, a technology that allows you to play two YouTube videos simultaneously. This is amazingly useful for me, since one of my favorite time-killers is coming up with new scores for silly Internet videos, and until yesterday I had to juggle YouTube pages to do so and couldn’t share my silly hobby with the world.

Here are some:

Spelling Bee Faint
Waterskiing mishaps (mute the left one)
The Very Melancholy Baseball Show

Here’s one Shamik made:

Todd Coffey/Dr. Dre mashup

And here’s one in honor of the A’s signing of Yoenis Cespedes:

WE EAT THE PIG AND THEN TOGETHER WE BURN!

I had some meetings and a lot of work to do this morning but I’ll have more stuff soon, I promise. For now, enjoy YouTube doubler.

Resisting urge to use *that* headline

Frazier, who died last night after a brief battle with liver cancer at the age of 67, will forever be linked to Ali. But no one in boxing would dream of anointing Ali as The Greatest unless he, too, was linked to Smokin’ Joe….

In their third and final fight, in Manila in 1975, they traded punches with a fervor that seemed unimaginable among heavyweights. Frazier gave almost as good as he got for 14 rounds, then had to be held back by trainer Eddie Futch as he tried to go out for the final round, unable to see.

“Closest thing to dying that I know of,” Ali said afterward of his experience.

Associated Press.

With a few exceptions, boxing — especially in the heavyweight division — seems like a dying art now. Clearly mixed martial arts have cut into its popularity or perhaps supplanted it in the national spotlight (though I have struggled to appreciate the aesthetic intricacies of that sport in my limited exposure to it). I used to be able to chart the succession of heavyweight champions with some certitude, and I couldn’t even tell you which Klitschko holds which belt today.

Maybe I’ve just lost interest. Obviously Manny Pacquiao is sweet, and I know there’s still tons of intrigue in some of the lighter divisions. Whatever. I didn’t set out to write a requiem for boxing.

For a while — specifically, during my freshman year of college — I thought boxing was about the best non-baseball sport imaginable. I was studying empiricism at the time, and I guess boxing seemed like the perfect, stripped-down athletic pursuit: Two guys with very limited equipment beating the hell out of each other to determine who would… I don’t know, secure alpha male status or something.

A couple times a week I went to Finley’s Boxing Club, this almost too-perfect gym above an auto-body shop in Northeast DC, wallpapered in fight posters and soundtracked by an awesome cacophony of ringing bells, whirring ropes, fists pounding punching bags and a boombox blaring soul music. The old trainer guy there — Mr. Finley — said I looked like an actor on a soap opera and called me “Hollywood,” which made me feel awesome.

I weighed 175 pounds at the time — In the Best Shape of My Life, in the parlance of Spring Training baseball. Before my senior year of high school football, when I was hellbent on breaking some of my brother’s school weightlifting records, I checked in at about 230. I switched defensive positions and dropped about 30 pounds over the course of that season. I lost another 10 before I graduated, then 15 more in an ill-fated two-month stint on the freshman crew team.

I watched old fights whenever I could (this was before YouTube), and for a variety of reasons I was drawn to Frazier. For one thing, I had read that he took up boxing to lose weight. For another, it felt like his strengths were some I could emulate: He wasn’t tall, but he was relentless. He could take a punch, and get inside a guy and go to work on his body.

I never got past sparring, but even that is about the most taxing athletic activity I’ve ever endeavored. The boxing priest who introduced me to the gym compared every round to a three-minute sprint. That’s about right. The adrenaline rush of chasing down an opposing running back in football can’t compare to the one that comes from standing in a small ring with a dude who’s trying to punch you in the face.

Oh — I sucked, by the way. Lest you think this is any sort of bragging, I should mention that I normally got my ass handed to me in every sparring session. I often matched up with this guy named Guy, a wiry 6’4″ ex-Marine. He jabbed me to hell, and his left hand was usually strong enough to keep me from getting inside like I planned. But even getting beat down was fun as hell in some masochistic way.

Eventually, I took up more typically collegiate pursuits like drinking and standup comedy, and my interest in dedicating hours of my free time getting beaten up waned. I met Frazier and interviewed a few years later at a charity boxing event in DC featuring then up-and-comer Michael Grant (who, Wikipedia tells me, is still going). Nice guy. Great hat.

About anonymous sources

Are there any real journalistic standards when it comes to identifying sources and are sports reporters following those standards anymore? I always thought that some insight into how the source may have gotten the information and/or their motivations for disclosing the information was required.

I mean we hear so much of stuff like “a source within baseball” or “a source close to the negotiations” these days, which tells us nothing at all about the source or the potential reliability of their information. Aren’t they required to provide at least some sort of background on the source?

– Chris, via email.

Good question. I didn’t go to journalism school so I never learned any ethical guidelines for that type of stuff. I consulted friend of TedQuarters and one-time Award Winning SaxaCenter Program correspondent Gina, who did go to journalism school, and she said it all depends on the editor and the specific case. That seems to make sense.

From what I understand, a good deal of anonymous sources in baseball — especially when it comes to contract negotiations — are agents or employees of the agent, or as they’re better known, “sources with knowledge of the negotiations.” A couple years ago, Rich Lederer at BaseballAnalysts.com did a nice job running down the details of one apparent association.

So as Chris suggests, it’s right to be skeptical of any anonymously sourced story. Keep in mind always that the source probably has a reason for divulging the information beyond just wanting to see his words in print. Since all baseball journalists — and really all journalists, I suppose — compete for pageviews, editors are likely less motivated to pull a juicy tip out of a story even if it comes straight from an interested party.

But since we’re all here on the Internet craving information, I’m not even sure it’s a bad thing. It is what it is, as they say. The onus falls on us to sort out which journalists (and sources) are more credible and to try to determine who’s feeding what to whom. Then we digest all the information and form our own opinions.

Anyone watch Onion SportsDome?

I missed the premiere of Onion SportsDome on Comedy Central last night. Did you? I’m a little leery — as I always am whenever anyone tries to roll out a satirical sports show — but it’s mostly because I’m massively jealous of everyone involved and want very badly to have a similar show of my own. In college, I produced and hosted a campus TV show just like it, only far less professional and far more sophomoric.

I know that some of the upcoming episodes will feature former Nooner host and friend of TedQuarters Brittany Umar, which is awesome for all parties involved. And from the clips they’ve got posted online it looks reasonably promising.

No matter what you say, synchronized swimming will always be silly

The deepening marriage of athleticism and artistry is changing synchronized swimming, an obscure Olympic sport that was memorably satirized in a 1984 “Saturday Night Live” sketch. “Le Rêve” and USA Synchro, the sport’s national governing body, have a sponsorship agreement “to combine resources,” said Sandra Mahoney, the national team director. The show, which opened in 2005, will support USA Synchro financially, as well as assist with choreography and acrobatic training for the athletes.

“They, in turn, will be able to build our talent for the Olympics so that they have talent down the line,” Mahoney said….

“It’s a contact sport now,” she added. “So they can’t ridicule us anymore.”

Kim Palchikoff, N.Y. Times.

No matter what anyone says, I will continue to ridicule the “sport” of synchronized swimming. It is ridiculous.

And of course I recognize that it requires an absolute ton of talent, athleticism and grace — like way more than I could ever hope to have. Clearly it’s a difficult thing to endeavor, trying to synch up so many intricate motions so precisely with your teammates and the music, all while working to stay afloat.

But to me, anything that is judged on wholly subjective criteria should not count as a sport. I want a clear winner, whether it’s the person who wins the race or the team that outscores its opponent. And I realize that there are plenty of reasonably subjective decisions made by referees in football and everything, but whatever. Shut up. Stop picking nits.

Back in the WCSN.com days, we covered a ton of silly sports, but none quite as silly as synchronized swimming (though Tom Boorstein argues it’s rhythmic gymnastics). There would be times when my only duty was to monitor the video stream to make sure it was operating properly, which meant I’d be sitting in a reasonably bustling office setting getting paid to sit there and watch synchronized swimming. And I giggled throughout.

It’s just a silly thing to watch. I can’t really explain it except to say that it vaguely resembles something you might see at Sea World, only with humans instead of porpoises. Also, I’ve never been to Sea World.

I defy you to watch this and not chuckle:

Mike Tyson turns off the crazy for a night, enjoys a pleasant Indian meal

Tyson, notorious for biting a chunk off Evander Holyfield’s ear in the ring in 1997, also abstained from alcohol and washed his meal down with tea with honey.

Mr Choudhury said: ‘He was here for a long time. He’s a very nice man and just wanted a nice curry.

‘I created these six dishes for him because he is a vegan and he must have liked them as the plates all came back clean.

‘They were very, very spicy. We made all different varieties for him.

“He’s a wonderful chap and very pleasant. He paid the bill and everyone was happy. We’ve had some wonderful celebrities here but he was the best one.’

Georgina Littlejohn, Daily Mail.

Words not typically used to describe Mike Tyson: “nice” “pleasant” “chap.”

Also, looks like Iron Mike has lost a ton of weight:

Who knows? Maybe he has pulled it together or made peace with himself or something. If so, good for him. The only things I can say for sure about Tyson is that he’s not dumb and he’s not boring. Also, he definitely still has a huge facial tattoo.

Hat tip to Tom Boorstein for the link.

Guaranteed to blow your mind

Fans who angrily questioned several calls made by soccer referees in this year’s World Cup won’t be surprised at a report in the journal PLoS One that found inherent bias in referees.

They might, however, be surprised that the bias is perceptual. The study found that soccer experts whose languages read left to right call more fouls when the action moves in the opposite direction, or right to left.

Sindya N. Bhanoo, New York Times

Awesome, fascinating article from the Science Times.

Understanding Kobayashi’s arrest

It’s about 100 degrees outside and hotter in my home office — the AC doesn’t quite make it in here. I’ve got a day off from work, so in lieu of any worthwhile or well thought-out posts, please accept this series of links about Japanese competitive-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi.

First, on the nature of his dispute with Major League Eating. Turns out Kobayashi didn’t want to sign a contract that prevented him from eating competitions in Japan or in endorsements in the U.S.

That’s cool, and makes a lot of sense. I figured he was holding out for more money, which would be ridiculous since he already gets all those free hot dogs. But dude’s got to make a living, and he’s an entertainer and all.

Second, on his special “extraordinary ability” visa. The Japanese Kobayashi applied for and received a special U.S. visa given to only those with extraordinary ability evidenced by “sustained national or international acclaim.” The Major League Eating people had previously sponsored his visas, allowing the organization to keep him under its greasy thumb.

Next, a recap of yesterday’s event, which Joey Chestnut won with a disappointing total of 54 hot dogs. Chestnut admitted he would have eaten more with better competition, but there is no better competition. Without Kobayashi pushing him, Chestnut can just breeze to victory.

Then, of course, Kobayashi’s arrival and arrest, on video:

And finally, just for kicks, an article I wrote recapping 2008’s version of the event, which I really liked at the time but think seems a little ridiculous now, but which says everything I think I ever want to say about competitive eating.