Ask Gary: Can Keith Thurman remain champion?

by Gary Shelton on June 25, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Rays

(Each week, the readers take over and play Ask Gary. They send in a question, or a couple, on Thursday night or Friday morning and we all talk about the world of sports.  Think of it as a radio show where you don't have to be on hold. Join us and ask a question, make a comment or be funny. Send the questions to

Saturday, 6 a.m.

Keith Thurman fights Saturday night on CBS - how do you feel the fight will go?

Cecil DeBald

It's a hard fight to pick. Shawn Porter may be Thurman's toughest fight. Throw in the long layoff because of his injury in his car accident, and this fight is like a trap game in football.

I've spent some time with Keith over the past few months, and I like him. He takes pride in his division, and pride in his profession. He's smart, he's funny and he's dangerous.

I think this fight might depend as much on Thurman's legs as his fists, though. I think Porter might have an edge after five rounds. Eventually, though, I think we'll see why Thurman used to dominate their sparring competitions.

Dan Birmingham, Thurman's trainer, doesn't think Thurman will have a problem. "He's my coach," Thurman said. "Porter's coach probably has a different opinion."

Will Serena Williams at 34 put it together one more time and win the Wimbledon ladies singles title this year?

Cecil DeBald

It's always hard to pick one player over the field. All it takes is one key point somewhere along the tournament. But I've always thought Wimbledon's grass was Serena's best surface. And if she gets on a roll, she's the player that the others fear the most.

Odd. The game will eventually pass Serena, too, as it does to all athletes. But I think she's got another good run in her. I'd certainly pick her over any other single competitor. Maybe all of them.

Do you think the Russians will boycott the Olympics totally if they don't get their "clean" track and field athletes into the games?

Cecil DeBald

No. I think both the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union learned all about how feeble boycotts were in 1980 and 1984. It's a lot of posturing, and then the world looks the other way. And your athletes lose years of work.

Before the '80 Games, I got to know Rowdy Gaines very well (we had classes together at Auburn) and Harvey Glance a bit. Rowdy joked that he couldn't find Afghanistan on a map. The athletes were just fodder by the politicians; soon, there were other politicians in charge who cared about other things.

Then there is this: The Russians aren't exactly a world threat, are they? It isn't like Jamaica boycotting. Russia should do well, however, in lifting and wrestling and other sports.

So ask  yourself: Why do countries compete? For publicity? For national pride? That's still there for other athletes. Why forfeit all of that for slow, steroided-up runners?

How successful do you think the recently announced NHL franchise in Las Vegas will be?

Scott Myers

It'll be very successful, at least at first. It's the town's first pro franchise, and the locals will want to convince the possible second (the NFL) that all is hunky-dory. There should be good corporate support (can you imagine the advertising around the rink?)

Long-term, I don't know. I don't think a lot of gamblers are going to go to Vegas to watch a power play. They're there to watch singers and dancers and lose money at blackjack.

Still, I think Vegas will do better than, say, Columbus. Or Nashville. I don't think it will be, oh, Montreal or Toronto. But it should be representative.

And I still think they should be called the One-Armed Bandits. And they should have a star named Moe Greene.

As a full-blooded curmudgeon, I'm amused at the plethora of injuries that befall major league baseball players. The elbow and shoulder injuries of pitchers are no doubt due to overuse and too many curve balls when they were growing up. But in regard to the muscle/tendon/ligament injuries of everyday players--with all the millions of dollars invested in these players, wouldn't you think baseball executives would demand a whole new approach to conditioning and training regimens? It's laughable seeing these bulked-up shortstops ending up on the DL due to whatever muscle tears or strains. Bring back Luis Aparicio and Cal Ripken!

Barry McDowell​

We should say hi at the next Curmudgeon Meeting. I'll be in the corner griping about the coffee.

You're right. Baseball injuries can be silly. Ken Griffey Jr. missed time when his cup slipped and pinched a testicle. Marty Cordova hurt himself in a tanning bed.  Jamie Easterly stepped in a gopher hole. The story I like is that  Clarence Blethen, a Red Sox pitcher, would put his false teeth in his back pocket. One day, he forgot they were there until he slid into second base. He ended up biting his own butt.

Sometimes, I wonder if players are so fine tuned they pull more muscles. Certainly, PEDs contribute. So, too, do the high prices paid to players. Teams baby players because of that.

I think there will always be adjustments to training rituals. Just let some trainer come up with juggling live snakes and have a great athlete say his success is because of it. The next day, there will be 14,000 athletes juggling cobras.

After that, 8,000 of them will need rotator cuff surgery.

It's been about a year into your new website service and I've enjoyed it as much if not more than my other TB sports sources. I'm curious how your subscription numbers look. I haven't seen you publicize your columns anywhere. What does one do to get the readership/hits up? Keep up the good work!

Rick Martin

Thanks, Rick. To be honest, I wish the numbers were higher. I try to pitch it through Facebook every now and then, but you can't do that too often or people will get numbed to your efforts. As readers, you guys are certainly welcome to help.

Seriously, when I started doing this, I heard there was a  guy in Pittsburgh who was doing the same thing. It's a younger, more progressive town, and the teams are iconic. And he's been massively successful.  I wish him well.

As you probably know, I have a second job (I keep what I post here and there separate) to put bacon on the table. I still like writing. I still like interacting with readers. And I have a ball with you guys.

The daily newspaper doesn't have a reader forum like this one It doesn't have an Ask the Expert. Your comments always get published. I would hope the readers feel a kinship with this site. If not, you guys know how to reach me.

I can't get excited about this Rays team. I feel totally indifferent. Kevin Kiermaier is exciting to watch, but he is out.  I don't feel that Matt Silverman has Andrew Friedman's magic touch.  The minor league system doesn't seem loaded.   What will ever make things better for this team, to make them more interesting?
Jim Willson
Jim, I've never seen a last-place team that got fans excited. When the team is losing, all you see are the shortcomings. Naturally. When it's winning, those flaws are covered up.
When he was with the Rays, Chuck LaMar used to be in love with the long-ball. Remember the Hit Show? Well, the Rays are one of the top home-run hitting teams in the league. But the Rays don't strike me as particularly athletic. With the exception of Kiermaier, they aren't fast. They aren't dynamic.
They don't hit for average. The catching is weak. They don't play good defense. Frankly, they're in fifth place, and I don't see why they should be in fourth.
I think Matt Silverman's job, frankly, is tougher than the one Andrew Friedman had. Friedman had the benefits of a franchise that had drafted high for its entire existence. The Rays realized this a couple of years ago, and they tried to boost their farm system with Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson.
Is that farm system deep enough? Not yet, and every drafting mistake the Rays make hurts.
I predict that the Glazers will start talking about a new stadium in about 5 years.  I think that is why they wouldn't sign a lease extension at Ray Jay.  The lease and the naming rights deal will be up at the same time.   What's your take?
Jim Willson
We can quibble about the number of years on the heels of all the improvements made to Ray Jay. I'd say about eight years. But  we both know it's coming.
This will play a part, too. If the Rays get a stadium built in Tampa in, say, 2-3 years, then it's going to be harder to get a new Bucs' stadium immediately after.
My reaction would be the first thing it was when the Bucs made their ridiculous price increases. Show me something on the scoreboard, first. As long as this team keeps missing the playoffs and keeps drafting in the top 10, I don't want to hear about how the team needs a new home for a half-filled stadium.
This area is gifted with many good sports reporters.  However, it is not an aggressive market, such as Philly.   It seems like we dont break many sports stories.   Am I wrong?
Jim Willson
It's harder to break stories than it's ever been. A lot of teams seem to love the national reporters for the NFL network or NHL network, for instance. I think the lack of a second newspaper has to hurt this, too. Why hurry to get something into print when you don't have a competitor trying to get the same story.
But readers never think the local newspaper breaks enough stories. I heard that from a radio announcer -- who has never broken a story in his existence -- when I worked with the Times. I told him, and this is true, that every breaking news story he had ever heard about came from the newspaper.
I still think that's mostly true. Frankly, the newspaper should break those stories. They travel with the team. They're there every day. Don't try to convince me that some website who couldn't find One Buc Place is going to break most of the stories. It just doesn't happen.
Are there times you'd rather read it quicker? Sure. But you want it accurate.
Here's an exercise. Write down the major beat writers in town. Make a note underneath their names when they break something. You'll see who is good and who is a little soft.


The US men's soccer team looked completely inept against the Argentinians losing 4-0 in the Copa tournament. I can't remember such a nauseating mismatch ever in sports.....wait a minute....there were the TB Rays vs. the SF Giants and/or Cleveland Indians. Almost forgot!

Howard Powders

Hmm. You may be onto something. The team was shut out. Last year's stars were ineffective And afterward, everyone bragged about how close they came.

Was Erasmo Ramirez in goal?

So are the Bucs thinking of the new fullback in more of a tight end role?

Nic Houllis

The Bucs still want a bit of mystery as to exactly how they will look, but the clues certainly seem to point that way, don't they. The drafting of Dan Vitale, and the gushing over him, seems to contribute.

I'm still not sure of Austin Seferian-Jenkins' long-term future. I would think Luke Stocker and Cameran Brate could adjust to an H-back type role, with ASJ coming in as a receiving threat.

H-backs are big helps in the running game Obviously, the Bucs need for Doug Martin to have a great season.

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