A Life On The Line: For four decades, other gamblers have tried to be Billy Walters while investigators have tried to bring him down. And for four decades, the world's most successful sports bettor has outrun them all.
For 38-year-old Rubalcada, being at the M is a pleasing trip down memory lane, a visit to his primary workplace throughout 2010 and 2011. Back then, he had nearly $1 million in his account at the M. Dressed in slacks and a sport coat, he would saunter in and bet six figures a week on NFL and college games. He was, M Resort staffers say, one of the sportsbook's "bigger guys" -- a high roller who could afford to bet very, very big.[more inside]
But he wasn't that at all.
In fact, Rubalcada was a faceless grunt in the most successful gambling enterprise of all time.
Bill Simmons returns to ESPN today after a three-week suspension for calling Roger Goodell a liar. There's a lot of speculation over his next move.
Defense of the Ancients is a MOBA (what's a MOBA? | comprehensive history of MOBAs) that has skyrocketed in recent years from a humble Warcraft multiplayer mod to a genre-defining megahit whose worldwide competitive bracket The International (whose finale airs tonight) boasts a prize pool of more than $10 million dollars. While publisher Valve is determined to help mainstream the esports craze with helpful
noob newcomer-friendly broadcasts of the final and a simulcast on ESPN, the community has been dogged by accusations of hostility and a very steep learning curve. Luckily, you don't have to know anything about DOTA to enjoy the best thing to come out of it so far: 45 minutes of witheringly sarcastic in-game meta-commentary [playable transcript] in the dulcet tones of Kevan Brighting, the very charming (and very British) narrator of beloved metagame The Stanley Parable. Once you're finished with that delightful deconstruction of esport tropes, you might also enjoy perusing similar announcer packs for Portal's GLaDOS, Bastion's Rucks, and... a pirate. ＤＩＧＩＴＡＬ ＳＰＯＲＴＳ!
#HuskyTwitter may have started out as a dog appreciation tag, but got a boost in recent days after ESPN Magazine revealed that Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder, at a fit 275 pounds, would be featured on one of the six covers of the 2014 Body Issue (possibly NSFW). previously
Betrayal is what led to his defenestration from ESPN the last time around. Betrayal is why his best piece of writing never found the audience it deserved. And betrayal is at the heart of why the most prominent black sportswriter around is also the most hated sportswriter in the black community, and why, 10 months after Jason Whitlock first announced his new endeavor, a black sports and culture site that he'll run under the aegis of his old enemy ESPN, the project is still struggling to get off the ground.
Bill Simmons, Grantland boss and 30 for 30 executive producer, went from a little known Boston blogger to one of the most successful sports writers in the history of American media. Rolling Stone's Rob Tannenbaum took a deeper look at Simmons.
Inside, please find a list of twenty-eight movies, TV episodes, and short subjects by Errol Morris and two movies about Errol Morris, all of which can be streamed, along with some short descriptions of their content. [more inside]
The salon visits, the makeup, the eyelashes, the tights were almost exclusively paid out of her own pocket. The finishing touch of the Raiderettes' onboarding process was a contract requiring Lacy to attend thrice-weekly practices, dozens of public appearances, photo shoots, fittings and nine-hour shifts at Raiders home games, all in return for a lump sum of $1,250 at the conclusion of the season.A Raiderette has filed a class action suit alleging that the Raiders' practices violate the California Labor Code.
The much-anticipated Frontline documentary "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis" premiered on PBS last week. In August, ESPN pulled out of the project, reportedly due to pressure from the NFL (as previously discussed on MetaFilter here), while the NFL itself only days later announced a $765m settlement with over 4500 former players for claims of concussion-related disability. Reaction to the Frontline program was unsurprisingly mixed from factions involved with the issue, but generally well-received by journalists and TV critics. [more inside]
The New York Times is reporting that pressure from the NFL led ESPN to pull out of an investigative project with FRONTLINE regarding head injuries in American Football. The two-part investigative report and book will reveal how the NFL, over a period of nearly two decades, sought to cover up and deny mounting evidence of the connection between football and brain damage. ESPN has a $15.2 Billion deal with the NFL. (Football concussions previously: 1, 2, and 3)
Nate Silver will move FiveThirtyEight to ESPN when his contract with the New York Times expires in late August. Silver's new site will look to Bill Simmons' Grantland as a model for existing under ESPN's umbrella. His new move could be "genius," with a role at ABCNews and a larger audience, but did the New York Times know what it had in Silver? ESPN press release & Nate Silver 2.0 quote
In 2009, ESPN producer Lisa Fenn worked on a story about two high-school wrestlers, Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett. Sutton was hit by a train when he was a child and had both his legs amputated; Crockett is legally blind. After the story aired, Fenn stayed in Sutton and Crockett's lives, and the three formed a surprising, enduring bond. [more inside]
Football coach Todd Hoffner took a 92 second cell phone video of his children goofing around after bathtime. [autoplaying (sfw) video] A few months later, he lost his job and was under investigation for child pornography. [more inside]
When We Held Kings: The oral history of the 2003 World Series of Poker, in which an amateur named Moneymaker turned $39 into $2.5 million and the poker boom was born.
23-year-old Garrett Holeve is an aspiring MMA fighter from Cooper City, Florida, just north of Miami. He trains six days a week, and has fought in amateur exhibition matches. He also has Down syndrome. This is his story [more inside]
Len Bias has been dead for longer than he has been alive. For ESPN Michael Weinreb examines how the tragic death due to a cocaine overdose of this young, up and coming basketball star affected both the sport and American drug policy. Meanwhile at Deadspin, Tommy Craigs explains how twentytwo years after his death Len Bias still makes everyone crazy.
Meet The World's Foremost Quantitative NBA Sports Bettor: Raconteur and humorous tweeter Haralabos Voulgaris
Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building. Wright Thompson of ESPN: The Magazine profiles Michael Jordan as he turns 50 and finds himself in a world where his body may age, but his obsessive drive to compete never goes away.
"For those who coached under Walsh, Finding the Winning Edge was a study of the genius beyond his playbook. For those who coached against him, it was a window into the mind of their nemesis." -- The Coaching Philosophy of Bill Walsh. The book is now out of print and even a used copy will cost you $1,249.99 on Amazon.
ESPN NBA blog The Hardwood Paroxysm has released a 2012-2013 Season Preview Guide [PDF] full of clever, opinionated (or sometimes data-driven) previews of each team and star player. [more inside]
"2. Airman Thompson possesses outstanding talent in writing. He has imagination, good use of English, and can express his thoughts in a manner that makes interesting reading 3. However, in spite of frequent counseling with explanation of the reasons for the conservative policy on an AF base newspaper, Airman Thompson has consistently written controversial material and leans so strongly to critical editorializing that it was necessary to require that all his writing be thoroughly edited before release." - A memo regarding Airman Second-Class Hunter S. Thompson's reporting for the base newspaper. [more inside]
Nico Calabria plays soccer and wrestles for Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts. He summitted Mount Kilimanjaro at 13 [Vimeo] as a fundraiser to provide wheelchairs to people in Tanzania, he does some parkour, and this week he's in a race to have the "Best of the Best" video on ESPN's SportsCenter for a goal he scored in a recent game. Calabria was born with one leg and uses carbon fiber crutches when he plays; he's a starting forward on the US Amputee National Team.
The Long, Strange Trip of Dock Ellis. ESPN's Outside the Lines has created a digital reading experience worthy of its subject matter. [more inside]
Team Spirit is a short documentary by Errol Morris about the funerals of passionate sports fans. (SLYT)
ESPN: The Body Issue 2012 (nsfw)
"I'm just looking for a second chance. Other people get second chances. Alcoholics. Drug addicts. Spousal beaters. Not gamblers, though. But, if you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me, it’s 1,972. That’s how many winning games I’ve played in. So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports. No one else can say that." Here, Now is a short documentary that looks at baseball legend Pete Rose, as he lives his life today. [more inside]
Is ESPN columnist Sarah Phillips scamming people on the internet? Eight months ago, a writer who specializes in sports-betting was hired by ESPN, sight-unseen. Fast-forward six months and accusations are swirling that she is either not who she says she is, or she is using her platform to grift internet gamblers and content creators. A story that's about fifty percent JT Leroy and fifty percent Nigerian prince.
Mr. George said in a telephone interview that his goal for “The Announcement” was not only to tell the inside story of Mr. Johnson’s personal deliberations but also to “make people aware this thing hasn’t disappeared.” He added: “People are still dying of the virus. People are living very tough lives because of it. It’s falling off the national agenda, I believe, and this in some way helps us reintroduce it.”*On March 11, 2012 at 9pm Eastern, ESPN will air the documentary The Announcement, about Magic Johnson's diagnosis with HIV and his decision to go public with his diagnosis. The film is directed by Nelson George, a award-winning author and noted filmmaker whose sister is Andrea Williams, an HIV+ activist for AIDS causes in Brooklyn (and who inspired George's HBO movie Life Support, which won Queen Latifah several awards for her role as a fictionalized version of Williams).
Jim Valvano and 6th seeded North Carolina State completed one of the all time greatest Cinderella upsets in basketball history, winning the 1983 NCAA tournament title over the top ranked "Phi Slamma Jamma" out of Houston, featuring two future Hall of Fame and Top 50 all time NBA superstars Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. On March 3, 1993, shortly before his death from bone cancer diagnosed the previous year, Jimmy V delivered an iconic speech at the inaugural ESPY awards announcing the creation of The Jimmy V Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for cancer. Jimmy V week is celebrated each year on ESPN and has since raised over $100 million for cancer research.
The 49ers are back, but who's paying attention? Sitting on top of a weak NFC West, is the Niner's impressive rise going overlooked? [more inside]
Ultimately, there is no separating Vick from his circumstances: his race, parents, economics and opportunities.
What if Michael Vick were white? The cover of the September issue of ESPN The Magazine features an image of the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, but another picture might end up getting more attention. [more inside]
Launching at 12:00PM ET today is Grantland.com, a new site from ESPN's Bill Simmons which will feature longer-form articles and a mix of sports and pop culture, with an impressive roster of contributors, including Malcolm Gladwell, Dave Eggers and Chuck Klosterman. The site takes its name from the legendary early-20th-century sportswriter Grantland Rice.
The Tao of Poo We can exhaustively explore every aspect of athletic life -- victory, defeat, violence, racism, drugs, brain damage, paralysis, death -- but nothing reveals as much about the physiology, psychology and sociology of sport as the excretory experience of athletes.
Quickish is a new site offering "real-time-ish" short-form sports news and analysis links, gathered and recommended by the site's proprietor, Dan Shanoff. Link suggestions from readers are welcome. NiemanLab interviews Shanoff. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he used to do the Daily Quickie on ESPN.com.
On Sunday, ESPN aired an acclaimed documentary about the University of Michigan's Fab Five. In one segment the members of the Fab Five discuss their hatred of the Duke University basketball program, and Jalen Rose goes so far as to say that at the time he felt like Duke players were "Uncle Toms". Link goes to clip of relevant segment (1:24), after a short ad. Grant Hill, who played for Duke against the Fab Five, responded in today's New York Times. [more inside]
ESPN commisions 32 posters for each of the participants in the upcoming tournement. In addition to the cool art, here's an interactive calender to help you plan your viewing courtesy of Spanish website Marca.com.
I scored a goal in the FIFA World Cup Final. A series of short films produced by ESPN about players ranging from Uruguay's Alcides Ghiggia in 1950 to Italy's Marco Materazzi in 2006. [more inside]
A heartbreaking 10-minute documentary on Joe Gaetjens who scored the single goal in the USA's shocking victory over England at the 1950 World Cup. Gaetjens was a Haitian accounting student at Columbia University who went to Europe shortly after the 1950 World Cup and returned to Haiti a few years later. His story, and the story of the upset victory, was until recently largely unknown in the US.
Pregnant Texan honors student Mackenzie McCollum was barred from playing on her school's volleyball team specifically because of her pregnancy. After the school allowed her back on the team, McCollum's coach cut her playing time and disclosed the pregnancy to all her teammates. The US Department of Education is now investigating the school for Title IX violations, and both McCollum and her family are on the receiving end of some pretty nasty invective. (ESPN video profile, ESPN comments)
At the insistence of Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown, the FAA is apparently targeting a pilot who was hired this month by disgruntled fans to fly messages like "Hire a GM!" over the team's training camp. A "Mike Brown Step Down" banner was flown over games last season. Brown's futility (1 winning season in 18 years) in Cincinnati has spurred fans to pay thousands for billboards and distribute urinal cakes, while HBO's Hard Knocks series has recently shown insight into his cluelessness. [more inside]
Sports Business Journal has a detailed look behind the buzz over "The Emperor’s New Clothes: How ESPN’s Multi-Platform Strategy Hasn’t Improved Ratings," a sharply critical PowerPoint presentation making the rounds of sports league offices and advertising buyers in recent months. A good read for folks interested in the business of sports, decreasing TV ratings for many leagues, the blurriness of the ad/news line and the difficulty of measuring eyeballs across media. [via Romenesko]
The Naga Jolokia is the hottest pepper in the world, at 1,000,000 Scoville Units. One seed from a Naga Jolokia can sustain intense pain sensations in the mouth for up to 30 minutes before subsiding. Imagine what eating an entire pepper will do? One intrepid ESPN reporter finds out.
FollowupFilter - After a two year hiatus (read: punishment ban), Gregg Easterbrook (founder of Beliefnet, Brookings scholar, ex of Slate & NFL.com) one of ESPN's most popular football writers returns, with no acknoledgment of where he went or why. Hopefully he'll keep his mouth shut about ABC and/or Disney related projects this time. As a side note, his two seasons worth of back articles are apparently not available, as they were purged (permanently?) when he was fired.
Dominoes now on ESPN! What's next? Watching Solitaire?
What have you told your children about Muhammad Ali? "I was frequently left with tingling all over because I had been in the presence of such a great man and still humbled by his compassion, tolerance and understanding." Inspired by this weekend's airing by ESPN Classic of most of Tyson's fights, I started thinking about the difference between these two men. Ali obviously transcended his sport and has become more than just a boxer while Tyson is clearly a lost and troubled soul. And yet Tyson's story still inspires reflection. Nietzche's statement that "What someone is, begins to be revealed when his talent abates, when he stops showing us what he can do" is perfectly illustrated by the twilight years of these two legendary boxers.
Happy 18th Birthday Maria Sharapova! A music video by ESPN's Bristol Bob and the Page 2 Crue, made in honor of Maria Sharapova's 18th birthday. Make sure you crank the volume knob up to 11, because now you, too, can sing along to the tune of The Knack's "My Sharona."
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