Where Has Boxing Gone?

By Mark Martinez

In the 90s, at least once a month, on a Saturday, you went to an uncle’s house to watch boxing. HBO, or Showtime, had great boxing cards lined up, even without Pay-Per- View. When I sit back and think about it, we didn’t realize we were witnessing the end of a Golden Era. Every weight class had more than four or five competitors that were soon to be legends. 

The Welterweight class alone had a Murderers’ Row of top ranked fighters. Felix Trinidad was Puerto Rico’s pride and glory. Trinidad fought, from 1990 to early 2001, without losing a single bout. What impressed me the most about Trinidad was how many top contenders he defeated throughout the years. Trinidad was Puerto Rico. No other boxer from the homeland has been able to have the same impact on the sport as he did. 

Miguel Cotto came close but, by that time, boxing was already on the decline. 

The Top Ten Welterweights in the nineties were a mixture of fresh young talented headhunters and crafty old veterans. Names like Pernell Whitaker, who was a Top Ten pound for pound fighter throughout the entire nineties, was a Southpaw champion, with Olympic Gold ties, and tremendous defense. Well-respected by his peers, and in the boxing community, Whitaker has a laundry list of great fighters who got beat on the scorecard repeatedly. 

Being that I am a huge Felix Trinidad fan, this next fighter was on the opposite end of my spectrum. Oscar De La Hoya, who I greatly respect as a fighter, and Olympian, was also atop the pound-for-pound list. I never considered De La Hoya above, or below, the top of the Welterweight division. 

Tremendous champion all around, no question about it, but, I just didn’t feel he had the same backing as Trinidad. After the controversial loss to Felix, I never felt like he was the same again. Although the De La Hoya vs Ike Quartey fight was by far one of the greatest matches in the nineties, the scorecard was slightly off after a re-watch. 

The next set of veterans have over 276 wins combined. Julio Cesar Chavez, Buddy Mcgirt, Frankie Randall, and Meldrick Taylor were all great boxers in their prime. By the mid nineties, this group was more on the back-end of their careers.Chavez was striding to just get 100 wins as a personal mark, taking lesser fights to get there. Buddy Mcgirt was a steady contender from the eighties through the mid nineties. True boxing fans will remember him as a fighter, most will remember him for being a great trainer, known for training Arturo Gatti, Antonio Tarver, and Hasim Rahman, to name a few. Mcgirt has also been named trainer of the year. 

Frankie Randall had his most notable win against Julio Cesar Chavez for the WBC Light Welterweight Title. In the rematch with Chavez, he would lose it as fast as he won it. Randall wasn’t the biggest star, but was a tough opponent for young talent, coming up through the ranks. Meldrick Taylor was an up- and-coming Olympic Gold medalist. When he fought Julio Cesar Chavez, he was still undefeated. Chavez was also undefeated at this time (66-0). This was Taylor’s most memorable fight, an extremely controversial ending to a great fight. With seconds left in the fight, referee Richard Steele stopped the fight after Chavez knocked Taylor down. Some would say Meldrick Taylor would never be the same. 

The nineties in boxing was a golden era. All these fighters were Welterweights, not to mention the younger guns who would later come through it. Shane Mosley, Kostya Tszyu, and Zab Judah would round up the Welterweight division. Boxing was a juggernaut in the nineties, still having Mike Tyson around, Roy Jones Jr. dominating any, and all, divisions he could get into. Bernard Hopkins and James Toney would make their mark in the same era, not to mention, the Heavyweight Division, with Evander Holyfield, Big George Foreman, and Lennox Lewis. 

The sport of boxing was at its peak in the nineties. More than one cable network carried the sport, more than one promoter making big fights. The Pay-Per-Views were worth it. The undercards were just as good as the main events. The barbershop talk of who was better, pound for pound, was always a topic of discussion. My question is, how could a sport that was once so strong, die so abruptly? The emerging UFC wasn’t as big as it is now. The talent has just seemed to have stopped. Nowadays if you could name 10 contenders throughout the entire boxing association, I’d be amazed.

Brandon Hyde Named AL Manager of the Year

by Miguel Mike Medina

Baltimore Orioles are having a terrific week. Another day, another honor for the organization. Skipper Brandon Hype has been named the American League Manager of the Year. Hyde becomes the fourth Baltimore manager to win the accolade. He joins Frank Robinson, Davey Johnson, and Buck Showalter. Hyde led the Orioles to 101 wins this season. 

Brandon Hyde deserves this award. He took home 27 of 30 first-place votes. The Orioles improved last season when they won 83 games in 2022. Many people thought it was a fluke and were going to go back to their old ways. When Baltimore lost Trey Mancini to Houston, the city of Baltimore had concerns. Mancini was beloved in Baltimore.

But this Orioles group went out and proved everyone wrong. No one expected them to win the division. It took a group of young and veteran players to come together and put up an impressive season. Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson, Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, and many more were responsible for putting the Orioles on a winning path. 

Under Hyde, the Orioles have created a culture of playing smart baseball and team togetherness. There’s a lot of harmony in this team and that had to do with the leadership of Brandon Hyde. Before making his journey as the Orioles manager, he managed the Marlins from 2010-2011 and then served as the bench coach for the Chicago Cubs from 2014-2018. He won a World Series title in 2016 with Chicago. 

A Visit the Negro League Museum

by Avry Jones

Welcome to the heart of baseball history, where the echoes of legendary players and their remarkable journeys still resonate. Join us as we embark on a journey through time to explore the rich and fascinating legacy of the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Nestled in the heart of America, this hallowed ground stands as a testament to the triumphs and struggles of African-American baseball players during a time of segregation and racial injustice. Inside this sacred museum, we are transported to an era when baseball was more than just a sport—it symbolized hope, perseverance, and a driving force for social change. From the 1920s to the 1940s, the Negro Leagues provided a platform for countless black athletes to showcase their exceptional talents, proving that barriers could be broken and dreams could soar higher than the bleachers.

The Negro League Museum reveals the stories of trailblazing athletes who shattered stereotypes and defied odds while battling adversity both on and off the field. From the electrifying speed of Cool Papa Bell to the unrivaled charisma of Satchel Paige, and the legendary slugger Josh Gibson, The Negro League Museum pays tribute to the incomparable greatness of these unsung heroes who etched their names in the annals of baseball history.

Beyond the captivating anecdotes and riveting tales, the Negro League Museum serves as a powerful reminder of the resilience of a community united by their passion for America’s favorite pastime. During my visit to the Negro League Museum, there were inspiring narratives of team owners, coaches, and fans whose unwavering support breathed life into the league and solidified its place in history. When walking through this museum, an unforgettable journey has begun to celebrate the indomitable spirit of the Negro Leagues and the enduring impact they left on the fabric of American sports and society. The stories shown within these walls are tales of baseball, hope, unity, and the unyielding pursuit of equality. Let’s take a swing at history and honor the legacy of those who paved the way for generations of future players, and remember, at the Negro League Museum, every exhibit is a home run!

​The map below shows the cities that housed Negro League teams. Many teams were close, and traveling to games was a way of life; each city brought more fans to cheer on their teams. From 1920 to 1955, communities were home to these teams.

​After the Civil War, the United States was still divided. Although sports was an outlet that could bring many people together during Reconstruction, it also segregated sports. Playing in the Negro League meant traveling all over the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States to play in front of sold crowds. For many players, their suitcase contained their life.

​Some of these pictures tell just a tiny part of the history of Negro League Baseball in the United States. Moreover, these pictures tell the story of history in the United States through the lens of baseball. Baseball was a form of escape as well as entertainment. Hopefully, this glimpse into the history of the Negro League will bring more information about its players and fans to the forefront as a way of highlighting the history of the United States and baseball.

Future Films Coming Soon

By Miguel Mike Medina

Stephen King is the man when it comes to writing. Another project will be used from his adaptations. The Director behind this project is Mike Flanagan, who is known for his work in Doctor Sleep. What about the cast? It got better. Chiwetel Ejafor, Karen Gillan, and Jacob Tremblay joined the cast for the film ‘The Life of Chuck.’ Tom Hiddleston and Mark Hamil are also part of this cast. Film Production has already taken place and one of the locations is in Alabama.

I like the addition of Jacob Tremblay. Ever since I saw him in Room and Wonder, I believe this kid is a star in the making of the film industry. We gotta protect him at all costs. 

Oscar winner Geena Davis is finally back in the leading role game. It’s been a long time coming for the veteran actress. She’s attached to Star in the road trip film called ‘Cowgirl’s Last Ride.’ The cast also features Scoot McNairy, Julia Sweeney, and Jill Scott.

The story follows an unorthodox retired Texas cowgirl, played by Davis, who battles against the negligent staff of her Dallas nursing home before escaping in a pickup truck on a journey towards her native east Texas, while her worried son sets off in hot pursuit. 

Leena Yadav will direct the film. She made her feature film debut in 2015 with Parched. Kris Hunt will write the screenplay. Production will begin sometime in 2024. 

A24’s ‘The Iron Claw’

By Miguel Mike Medina

A24, my favorite independent film company, has released a new trailer for the movie, The Iron Claw. It’s based on a true story. Directed by Sean Durkin. The cast is solid starting with Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, etc. The movie follows the triumph and tragedy of an American sports dynasty. It is set to hit the theaters on December 22nd. 

Jeremy Allen White is one talented actor. I’ve been following his work since Shameless. He has more momentum now after winning awards for his leading role performance in Hulu’s ‘The Bear.’ White could become the most successful actor out of the Shameless cast. He’s only like 32 or 33 years old. So we shall see. But I like his work as an actor and I wish him many more success. I’m looking forward to seeing this film when it hits online. 

Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy is the latest actor who will get behind the scenes and dip his toes into directing. I’m a fan and support actors who take situations into their own hands and try directing, writing, or producing. McAvoy will make his directorial debut on the rap biopic “Sibilil N Brains.” They’re a Scotland rap group that became infamous for conning the international music industry into thinking they were Californian rappers after faking American accents. I’m sure McAvoy will be reaching out to fellow directors to ask for advice and will be doing his homework very well. I’m rooting for McAvoy to enjoy his first taste in directing actors. 

Jaume Collet-Serra continues to get work. Consistency and dedication are key in Hollywood. Serra will be reuniting with actress Emily Blunt, whom I’m a fan of. Serra will be directing Amazon’s detective film “Kate Warne.” Emily Blunt will be serving as the producer for this project. Dwayne The Rock Johnson is also part of the producing team. Serra, Blunt, and Johnson all worked together in Disney’s’ Jungle Cruise. 

RRR – Movie Review

By Miguel Mike Medina

RRR is one incredible film and one of my favorite films of 2022. Yes, it is a long movie – 3 hours, which is one of my main issues of this movie, but it keeps you on your toes. There’s something about foreign films that brings excitement to a moviegoer like myself. RRR is an action/drama film. RRR stands for “Rise Roar Revolt.” The movie is about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in the 1920s. The film is directed and written by the genius S. S. Rajamouli. 

The movie does have a lot of violence. The action pack is at an all-time high. One of the things I liked about this movie is the stage combat and the choreography. When I first saw the dancing scenes in the movie, it caught me by surprise to see that in this movie, especially an Indian movie. But I thought it was a good decision on the director’s part to include that. The writing, cinematography, acting, and soundtrack were all flat-out amazing. This is a movie that I can see myself owning on Blu-Ray or DVD. 

RRR is considered arguably India’s biggest action movie ever. It is the third highest-grossing Indian film of all time and the highest-grossing Indian film of 2022. RRR won the Academy Award for Best Original Song “Naatu Naatu.” The movie also won for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Song at the Critics Choice Awards. 

It is currently streaming on Netflix. You should watch it if you haven’t done so yet. From 1 through 5, I give this movie a 4.6 out of 5 stars. 

The Uneven Five of the American League Central

By Mark Martinez

     It amazes me that we have a cluster of American League Central Division teams below .500. With the American League East being so competitive, and the complete opposite, I guess some division has to be that way. 

     Looking back at last year’s standings, the Cleveland Guardians won the A.L. Central while the Chicago White Sox finished 2nd, with an 81 and 81 record. The Minnesota Twins seem to be the team, this year, that will win the division outright.

        In 1995, Major League Baseball expanded to three divisions in each league. In the last 28 seasons, believe it or not, the Cleveland Guardians have had the most division wins with eleven. If you follow baseball, you know the Cleveland Guardians were the laughing stock for a long period of time. From 1995 to 2001, they won the division 6 times. The Guardians put some great players on the map. There was Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Grady Sizemore, and C.C. Sabathia, just to name a few. Before researching this topic, I honestly didn’t expect to see such dominance from one franchise. 

     The Minnesota Twins rank 2nd, in the same time frame, with 8 division wins. The Twins are a smaller market team. In all the years the Twins have won the A.L. Central, only one time, in 2019, did the payroll exceed over 100 million dollars. In fact, the Minnesota Twins payroll, in 2002, was just 40 million dollars. 

     What I noticed about this division is the cluster. A franchise gets hot, for a few years, steady. The pattern seems to be if you win one year, you will probably win the year after, as well. The shocking part of this division, besides the under .500 factor, is how much the Kansas City Royals do not actually win. From 1995, until the present day, the Kansas City Royals have only won the A.L. Central one time. The only year the Royals actually won the division was in 2015, going on to also win the World Series that year. When you think of the Royals, you think of a small market team automatically. The Minnesota Twins are basically in the same position of being a small market franchise.

     Although 4 out of the 5 teams will finish under .500, you have to guess that eventually the tide will turn, and 4 out of the 5 will be above .500. Playoff contention for 80% of one division makes every game critical. 

Baby Bombers’ Era is DONE

By Miguel Mike Medina

The Baby Bomber era is doomed. It’s over. It’s finished. The Yankees have lost nine in a row. No Division lead, no wild card lead. This team isn’t going anywhere this season. This is the worst second-half performance from the Yankees since 1995. Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls we’re still alive. Although they made the playoffs as a wild-card team that year, this current roster was supposed to perform way better than this. 

The Yankees’ best years to try to win it all during the baby bomber era were from 2017 through 2019. Jose Altuve’s ALCS home run did some psychological damage to that team. They couldn’t recover from that loss. It’s time for the Yankees to rebuild. Yes! You heard me correctly. The YANKEES NEED TO REBUILD! BABY BOMBERS ARE DEAD! The group of Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torres, and Luis Severino has been a bust. 

Look at the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, and Cincinnati Reds. The Yankees don’t have a chance against those teams. Those teams have a good farm system and know how to develop their young talent. The Yankees have to make some decisions soon. 

Saturday Night Collision Can Be Considered the A Show For AEW

By Jim Biringer

All Elite Wrestling has a new show on Saturday night called Collision. Ever since the show hit the airways back on June 17th, it has given off a vibe of being the A Show for All Elite Wrestling. Not to mention it is giving fans vibes of what the old AEW was like when Dynamite first launched back in September 2019. 

The company has been around longer than that. January 2019 is when All Elite Wrestling was launched. The foundation started at All-In that fall as Cody Rhodes, Matt and Nick Jackson (Young Bucks), Kenny Omega, Hangman Adam Page, and Marty Scurll gave the fans an alternative product to WWE. You can go back even further than that when Omega and Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom earlier that year set the tone for what was to come for AEW. 
Now fast forward to now with AEW Collision. Dynamite feels like its own show and Collision feels like its own show even though they are under the same company. This was similar to what WWE was like with the original brand split in 2002 coming off the purchase of WCW. Smackdown had its own roster giving high quality matches. And RAW had its own roster giving fans different matches and more storylines. 

Collision and Dynamite has that feel now too. Think about it. Collision has been more wrestling over the past several weeks and less storylines. While Dynamite is giving fans the storylines with a dose of wrestling mixed in. But each show is pushing the other show to be better and we have seen it. 

As much as AEW does not mention a roster split, Collision has the wrestlers they feature the most and Dynamite has its roster it features the most. Again that had to happen with the return of CM Punk. And Punk is proud to lead the charge on Saturday calling it his show. We know the history of The Elite and Punk. There is a reason they are not on the same show right now. Maybe one day they will bury the hatchet and do what is best for business and give the fans that feud, but right now it is now happening. 

But back to Collision. Saturday Night AEW Collision does not feel as rushed as Dynamite does on Wednesday night. They let things settle a little more than Dynamite does. You could see Dynamite doing that early on, but now they just wanted to cram as much in as possible within the two hour time block. AEW Collision has only a handful of matches each week. But again the company is producing high quality television each Wednesday and Saturday night.

While AEW does not want to admit it, and MJF said it Saturday it is not Collision vs Dynamite, there is a little bit of that competitive drive between the two shows. Over the past several weeks, Collision and Dynamite have each put on great matches, but it has been Collision leading the way with Punk, Ricky Starks, FTR, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Andrade El Idolo, and the House of Black. 

Think about the matches FTR has had over the past couple of weeks. Two matches with White and Robinson. One of which went 58 minutes in a best two out of three falls match. Oh yeah the champions defended their tag team titles against the red hot act of MJF and Adam Cole this past Saturday. Another instant classic. 
Robinson and White have been excellent as well. CM Punk hand picked these guys to work with before Collision started. These guys wrestle every week. And Bullet Club Gold is gaining momentum.

And of course the rivalry between Punk and Joe culminated on a Saturday night on Collision. Punk and Starks have a nice rivalry going through the Owen Hart Tournament and now beyond. Starks will get a AEW World Title match this Saturday as Punk claimed he is still the real champion, more on that in another story. But giving the show a major belt says something about the quality of the talent before the titles are merged again.

Let’s not forget about Andrade and the rivalry he had with the House of Black over his mask. What a tremendous ladder match. Like the Old AEW, Collision is giving banger matches each week. Now it will be interesting to see if they continue that. At times Dynamite slowed down with that, but recently, Tony Khan has been pulling out all the stops as each show is bringing out the best in the other.

The ratings are getting better each week too. Now let’s see what happens when college football comes around and when there is a WWE PPV. But Tony Khan and Warner Bros Discovery took a chance on another two hour wrestling show and it is paying off.

Collision is giving the fans of what the old AEW was like and showing why it can be considered the A show now. 

AI and Music-Making: Allies or Adversaries?

By Jennifer Paccione

AI is here, people…and here to stay. Whether we like it or not, have tried ChatGPT or not, the buzz is flying about AI and its benefits—and its threats—to creativity—in fields across the board, including the music industry. Here are some pros and cons to this new and powerful tool on the block that is making its way into everything we see…and hear.

Enhanced Creativity: AI algorithms have the ability to generate new and unique musical compositions by analyzing vast amounts of existing music. This can help musicians and producers discover fresh melodies, harmonies, and rhythms that they may not have thought of on their own, leading to increased creativity and innovation.

Music Production and Efficiency: AI can automate various aspects of music production, such as mixing, mastering, and sound engineering. This can save time and effort for artists and producers, allowing them to focus more on the creative process. AI-powered tools can also enhance the quality and consistency of music production, leading to a more polished final product.

Improved Music Analysis: AI algorithms can analyze large datasets of music to extract patterns and insights. This can be beneficial for musicians, musicologists, researchers, and industry professionals, as it can provide valuable information about trends, genres, and audience preferences. Such insights can help musicians and record labels make informed decisions regarding their creative direction and marketing strategies.

Loss of Authenticity and Originality: While AI-generated music can be impressive, there is a concern that it may lack the emotional depth and authenticity associated with human creativity. Critics argue that AI compositions may lack the personal experiences, cultural context, and genuine emotions that artists bring to their work, leading to a loss of originality and uniqueness in the music industry. Impact on Employment: The integration of AI in music production and composition processes can potentially lead to job displacement for musicians, sound engineers, and other industry professionals. As AI tools become more sophisticated, there is a risk that human involvement in certain aspects of music creation could diminish, potentially affecting livelihoods and career opportunities.

Bias and Lack of Diversity: AI algorithms are trained on existing datasets, which can introduce biases and perpetuate existing inequalities in the music industry. If the training data predominantly represents certain genres, cultures, or demographics, AI-generated music may be skewed towards those characteristics, further marginalizing underrepresented artists and genres. Ensuring diversity and fairness in AI-generated music remains a challenge.

Ethical Concerns: The use of AI in music raises ethical questions, particularly regarding copyright and intellectual property. Determining ownership and rights over AI-generated compositions can be complex, as they are often based on existing works. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential misuse of AI for creating deepfake music or imitating the styles of famous artists without their consent.

As a musician and composer myself, I feel that as AI will have powers of speed, pattern- finding, and algorithm recipe cooking, I have to say that it will be nowhere close in replacing the dynamic ebbs and flows of the human touch. Whether it be the striking of keys, bowing or plucking of strings, pounding snares, toms, and bass drums, or even the breaths of singers between vocal phrases, I think we enjoy hearing the sounds of humans on their instruments, however subtle and unobtrusive they may be. Not to mention when I write/compose, I am drawing on my own unique experiences, past and present emotions, current life situations, perspectives, opinions, loves, hates, indifferences, dreams, passions, regrets……none of which AI possesses or can pretend to possess and translate into music as eloquently…and fiercely…as us humans.

We don’t always realize it, but those “human” nuances are what makes the audible mix so tantalizing, especially when music is heard live under an optimal sound- mixing/acoustic environment. The human connection is at the core of hearing live music, with the symbiotic relationship between audience and musician(s). Even the human energy between musicians live on stage has very powerful, unexplainable effects on the energy and emotions of the audience. Knowing from first-hand experience, musicians feed off of each other’s energy and even flow together somehow that helps the creative process and live experience unfold exponentially. Many times composing for my band I would get “composer’s block” so I would present my musical ideas on my keyboard with my fellow bandmates. Many jam sessions would find us all in different directions, then somehow magically merging together, like meandering rivers finding one ocean. We would bounce verbal and musical ideas off each other, whether talking or playing through these ideas. Once we locked on to something that we all agreed was working, we would ride that flow, swimming in each other’s rhythm and voice to create some amazing work. That’s also part of the fun of composing and performing with other musicians. I don’t know if AI would ever be able to get inside my head like my bassist or drummer can. And for me, there’s nothing in the world that compares to the electricity that runs through my veins and the power it brings me when I’m up there on stage playing music with my fellow kindred spirits and feeling that energy from an audience.

All that being said, I am certainly curious and eager to learn more how AI can better assist in future work and possibly save some time for me, as I learn how it can be my “musical assistant” rather than “co-composer.” I believe that we should understand that AI in music-making needs to serve us, the creators, as a tool rather than to be relied upon as a replacement in music-making.

Here are just a few examples of websites and platforms that currently utilize AI in music:
Jukedeck (www.jukedeck.com): Jukedeck is an AI-powered platform that allows users to generate original music tracks in different genres and styles. Users can customize parameters such as tempo, mood, and duration to create music tailored to their needs.

Amper Music (www.ampermusic.com): Amper Music is an AI-driven platform that enables users to create custom music tracks for various purposes, including film, video games, and commercials. It provides a library of pre-composed music elements that users can arrange and customize.

AIVA (www.aiva.ai): AIVA (Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist) is an AI composer that creates original compositions in different styles and genres. AIVA has been used for film soundtracks, advertising, and other media projects. Melodrive (www.melodrive.com): Melodrive is an AI-driven music generation platform that creates adaptive and interactive music for video games. It uses AI algorithms to generate music in real-time, responding to the game’s events and creating a dynamic and immersive experience.

Magenta by Google (magenta.tensorflow.org): Magenta is an open-source project by Google that explores the intersection of AI and music. It provides tools and resources for music generation, composition, and creativity using machine learning techniques.

I encourage you to give some (or all) of these a try, but take heed:
Always remember who created who.
Rock on, humans, and let’s keep making some great, boundary-pushing music.