Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Real Mess

Before the ASEAN Football Cup Finals, I was shocked to hear most of my friends and colleagues say that our National Team was going to get their collective asses whupped. It’s not that I had overly misplaced optimism or unrealistic expectations, but rather I believed that our team would fight and contend. While in the aftermath of the competition, my prediction might seem laughable, I like to think that we went into the finals thinking we had a chance. Look, if we’re going to go into international competitions like the Asian Games, SEA Games, Olympics or what have you and our mindset is we’re not going to win, then why bother sending a team? Let’s save the tax payers some money and just send the boxers, cue artists, wushu practitioners or the sure-ball medal winners. We’re there as contenders not as foils for players to rack up some serious personal stats.

So maybe the system Aris Caslib ran was wrong. Maybe they didn’t have enough preparation. Maybe our team wasn’t in the best of conditions – did you see how the Malaysians and Thais outran our defensive backs time and again? The way the Thais had their way with us, I swear I thought the score was 11-0. Oh, that was Singapore versus Laos? No fooling. If the Malays and Thais weren’t excited like they were at a duck shoot, they might have scored a few more. Maybe this will show people that having the Fil-foreigners is a short-fix solution.

Aside from the beatings we got, I was afraid that the losses (so are you happy we tied Myanmar?) would kill the burgeoning interest in football locally. You don’t know how pissed I was when I heard the game analyst’s comments that we are clearly out of our league and how the tourney should be a learning experience. We’ve been schooled so much over the years that I wonder if we’re inured to the lessons. Truth hurts, doesn’t it? And some naysayers opine that these losses might send Philippine football back to the Stone Age. Well, I don’t think so and that’s not the eternal optimist in me speaking. I think that more people care now and they won’t allow the sport to sink into quiet obscurity. So now it’s back to the drawing board and the upcoming SEA Games.

Our foes play some 30+ international games every year. Our team plays in much less. Shooting from the hip here, I’d say our team needs more exposure, better facilities for training, better training, and a solid comprehensive grassroots program. Not a splintered one. What’s happening is we have different fiefdoms for associations. If they aren’t feuding with one another they think their association is king. So much for team spirit.

It seems that after every debacle in some sporting event, people call for an inquiry or take the opportunity to lambaste the incumbents. But has anything been done? Time for real action, gentlemen. And by the way, thanks to the Azkals! I’m a fan no matter what.

Over in the Iberian Peninsula, Real Madrid, my favorite international football team (after the defunct New York Cosmos) is in turmoil. Yes, the soap opera continues. They are discovering much like the New York Yankees that fielding a line-up of galacticos doesn’t guarantee gleaming silverware.

I am sorely disappointed the way things have turned out after the World Cup. Their shoddy treatment of their players leaves much to be desired. I thought that David Beckham played into the hands of Ramon Calderon and Fabio Capello. All the while, the President and Coach said that the former England Captain was in Madrid’s plans. In the meantime, Becks became one of the world’s most expensive cheerleaders hardly getting any playing time. Then they said that it was Beckham’s decision whether he wanted to stay with the team. When Beckham chose the LA Galaxy’s offer, the two reacted as if Beckham had an affair with their wives. Calderon made derisive comments not just about Beckham but even the other players most notably Ronaldo, Iker Casillas, and Antonio Cassano, and Guti. Capello also said that Beckham played his last game with Real. After the backlash against their poor management of the situation, the two backpedaled. Calderon apologized to the team for his rants (he called his team a bunch of spoiled egoists, revealed to all how much Casillas makes, and pooh poohed Beckham’s deal with a supposed lousy football league) and Capello said that maybe Beckham might play out his final season. But the damage has been done. Capello even flipped the bird on one irate fan! Madrid – championship-less in three years now is rebuilding for the nth time. The players are unhappy. If management believed that the youth movement was the way to go then they should have done so after the last World Cup. As it is, many of their former players and coaches left with a sour taste in their mouths. Not exactly the paragon of a model organization Real Madrid is. Maybe after this, other players might not want to showcase their wares at the Bernabeau.

Maybe the LFP should change the team’s name to Real Mess.

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