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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bleachers' Brew #74 The Write Stuff II

(This came out in my column in Business Mirror Monday September 24, 2007)

The Write Stuff II

I was planning on writing about the resurgent New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs but with a few games left I thought I’d wait before I dig up that mandatory Yogi Berra quote, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”

So instead I’m going to write about…writing about sports and answer questions about…writing about sports. What a novel concept!

Dear Rick:
Now that you have your mug and byline in the papers (and some magazines), do you feel like a celebrity?

Dear Jonah:
Ah, no because whenever I write, I feel equal parts geek and equal parts fanboy. Just a mere witness to a sporting event like you and lots of others except that instead of typing on my laptop, “so-so player stole the ball for a breakaway slam dunk” I can say, “so-so player made away with the rock like some cellphone snatcher from Recto and broke away for a flush that turned (insert name of player dunked on here) into a youtube star.”

Okay, now I’ll have to fend off letters from irate snatchers. Even from those along Aurora Boulevard who feel slighted that I didn’t mention them.

But seriously, Jonah. If I was TJ Manotoc I might answer that differently. And know that sports writing in the Philippines doesn’t make you stash loads of moolah unless I’m into payola.

The closest brush to fame I had was while on a trip to China where I wore a golf shirt and cargo shorts with a pair of Air Jordans on my feet. Now if you think there’s nothing wrong with what I wore then you should know that it was in the dead of winter and it was bleeping cold. Yes, I forgot it was that time of the season and since then I never travel wearing shorts. Anyways, as I was collecting my luggage, someone approached me and asked me if I was a basketball player in the PBL (obviously he was a fellow Noypi). I have no clue whatever gave him that idea (maybe it’s because I’m 5’11 and have skinny legs). For the briefest of moments I considered lying and conjuring some story, but I felt embarrassed and said that I wasn’t. But as I made my way to the toilets (to change into something more apt), I remember telling myself, “Basketball player? I like the sound of that.” Only the closest I ever got to serious hoops was playing in the Fil-Am Summer leagues in New Jersey and the ABL.

Most recently, during Kobe Bryant’s second tour of the Philippines, Nike Philippines prepared a shuttle for us media folks for a ride to the events at the Serendra and Philsports Arena. As the shuttle (a huge tour bus) parked in front of the packed Nike store in Fort Bonifacio, a wave of excitement swept the massed people who were in line for hours and baked by the hot afternoon sun, they cried, “Kobe!’

Digital and video cameras whirred into record mode. The door swung open and out stepped us media folks loaded with cameras and note pads with our precious media passes dangling from our necks. “Ngek! Media lang pala,” spat out not a few people. I waved at the crowds nevertheless.

Dear Rick:
Who are the best athletes you have met and if you could meet and interview anyone who would they be?

Dear Mara:
I’ve met and interviewed quite a lot and was tongue tied for some. But two incidents stand out – meeting up and trying to engage the New York Yankees’ Jason Giambi and the San Antonio Spurs’ Manu Ginobili in small talk.

But for my money, the best interviews/meets I’ve had (in no particular order):
1. Alex Compton
2. Dwyane Wade
3. Mikee Cojuancgo-Jaworski
4. Monsour Del Rosario and Stephen Fernandez
5. Allan Caidic
6. Brian Viloria
7. Bernie Williams
8. Danny Seigle
9. Christine Jacobs-Sandejas
10. Bill Wennington

If I could meet and interview certain athletes, again in no particular order:
1. Hope Solo (gush!)
2. Tiger Woods (I have to have one of the world’s greatest on this list)
3. Steve Kerr (on being on the receiving end of Michael Jordan’s game winning shots as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and later as His Airness’ teammate with the Chicago Bulls, and winning with Tim Duncan).
4. Rick Fox (on playing for Boston and Los Angeles and how he felt when he wore the #17 with the Lakers in honor of the failed 1991 Celtics’ campaign for a 17th banner – Fox won three titles in LA)
5. Shaquille O’Neal (the world according to the Big Aristotle)
6. Jackie Robinson (on changing the face of sports)
7. Luisito Espinosa (on the being immersed in the school of hard knocks)
8. Zinedine Zidane (on how he deals with his fame and infamy)
9. Fabio Capello (on his being a winner everywhere he goes)
10. Vlade Divac (on learning English while watching the Flintstones, being traded for Kobe Bryant, and running with the uber cool Sacramento Kings of the new millennium)

Dear Rick,
Why did you choose sports writing as a profession?

Well, Ben. While working in an advertising agency, I contributed articles in the Lifestyle section to the Inquirer. But when I was waiting on tables, running pizza delivery in Manhattan, working in a private school in Brooklyn, and stalking Marvel Comics’ Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada in their swank Park Avenue office, I wrote letters to family and friends back home. They were funny and sad letters about struggling to find my piece of the American Dream and my place in the world (I hope to publish that book by the year’s end). My letters found their way around and people egged me to write. When I came home for a vacation (that has since become an extended one until I go back to the US next January), I wrote about the heartaches of winning and losing while rooting for the Ateneo Blue Eagles. That opened the door (while working as Marketing Manager for Solar Sports) for chipping in at Men’s Health, Tower Sports NBA, Business Mirror, and a few stuff that should be out soon. Besides it’s fun and a catharsis of sorts.

Dear Rick:
Any problems you face as a sportswriter?

You mean aside from interviewing stuck up and rude people who a few years ago yearned for small press? Or people who don’t hear your question because they’re looking at some girl’s rack? Or being unable to ask sensible questions during a press conference because the organizer plays favorites? It’s losing control when I root for my fave sports teams and then I pick a fight with opposing fans. Instead of writing about them they’ll write about me.

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