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.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The more things change, the more they stay the same

That was one exciting match, UE vs. DLSU. Congratulations to the Red Warriors for a truly superb season. They have been plenty fun to watch even if my team lost twice to them. Now here's hoping we have a chance to get back at them should Ateneo make it to the finals.

So I got my initial prediction right that we'd make it to the Final Four. Yeah, but it's so easy to say that we will after having made it since its inception. In case people didn't notice, almost all if not all pre-season hoops analysts pegged the Blue Eagles to the finish #5 in the standings. After all, the remnants of the team were largely unproven.

Every team is on a mission, but perhaps like UE and DLSU, the Blue Eagles went into Season 70 with a chip on their shoulder. They still remember Season 69 and its painful end. Having watched this team closely since last year's finals, I knew we'd make it... and hopefully, even beyond that. There was a willingness to step up and play to their true potential. Credit has to be given to Norman Black and his staff (and the players as well) for their desire to achieve and for their fighting heart. I have pre-season tapes where I interviewed the players on their chances. Maybe depending on how the season turns out, I'll run it. But in those interviews, they were optimistic that they'd account well for themselves. The interviews with Eric Salamat, Chris Tiu, Eman Monfort, Yuri Escueta, and Jai Reyes were especially funny.

Now to get something off my chest... I'm currently writing a long NBA Eastern Conference preview (for a sports magazine) that is due today so I haven't had a chance to post anything on the surging New York Yankees and the floundering Chicago Cubs (for the newspaper I write for). Maybe I'll get to that but first... there's the matter of DLSU.

I hate to say it, but their basketball team has given the league nothing but trouble since it entered.

Before the 1988 season got underway, they 'recruited" John Edel Cardel who played high school ball and college hoops for San Sebastian. Incredibly, he soon after donned the green and white without even establishing residency! When I asked a UAAP board member why DLSU was not penalized for that, they said they decided to let it slide for some unexplained reason.

Then they got into not one but two rumbles with Ateneo... both in non-UAAP tournaments in 1988 & 89.

A year or so later, some of their wins were overturned when Noli Locsin was found ineligible to play (although he did make a comeback a year later). George Peralta, their transferee from PATS was also suspected of having bogus papers during that time although nothing conclusive came out of it.

Then there were their players like Zandro Limpot and Don Allado who were enrolled in the College of Saint Benilde. La Salle defended this by saying that it was one and the same college. But the schools aside, most of their players never even finished! Some were even going to class years after their final playing year. How can they play out their entire UAAP eligibility if they never even finish their courses? Remember after the PEP Test scandal they "kicked out" Ryan Arana? As if suddenly they were so conscious of their players studying so they decided to make an example of him. Yes, I heard too that he aswered back to one of the professors. But I don't know whether that's true or not.

Then a few years ago, they claimed that Mike Cortez and Willy Wilson threw the game. Whether true or not, isn't that what they teach their recruits? Yes, I know that Ateneo lost Jay-R Reyes because of some alumnus who in Reyes' mother's own words, "binibili kaming parang karne." Shame on you, dude! At least this alumnus who feuded with team management because of his ways is no longer a part of the program.

But back to the Green Archers, a number of of their players openly feuded with their coach for accusations regarding throwing a game or for not signing with the coach's partner-manager. In fact, some chose to play out their final year of eligibility in schools like CSB and UP. One of your former players who left even went to ADMU to ask if he can go there even if it meant losing some playing years because he hated what was going on in Taft. And no that wasn't BJ Manalo. Well, BJ would have played again for ADMU but that is another story. Thankfully he didn't although it would have been a nice thing to rub their noses in the dirt.

Then there was the PEP Test scandal that hasn't even been resolved and which they aren't even repentant about. Instead like their media minions, they say they were honest enough to admit their fault -- when no one knew about it -- and as a token of their good intentions they returned their trophy so they won't be penalized. I'm not sure now, but didn't they go to court to try and stop this? There were even threats to bolt the league. One school rep even opined during the voting that he thought that DLSU should have been meted out a two-year suspension because instead of being repentant, maangas pa sila.

So following their logic, if I steal from a bank and 'fess up then it's all hunky dory? That I don't have to go to jail since in a moment of clarity I decided to be honest?

And it's hard to believe that even their players can't even describe their own courses in school that they need their coach to explain it for them. Oh yeah, mahirap nga pala yung course nila. Bast mahirap i-explain so let's lay-off. Ayt, if you say so.

And then there was Mac Cardona. The future Captain Hook wasn't taken in by NU because his papers weren't fixed then he shows up all of a sudden in green and white. So what did Manny Dandan miss here?

Months following the inital uproar about the PEP Test scandal, I wrote about the UAAP Report in the Business Mirror (on the same day Dong Puno came out with his take on it in the Philippine Star). I received my copy of the report from a disgruntled La Sallian who was clearly angry about this win-at-all-costs mentality. In the report, there were several items that weren't previously made public and it was shocking to see how a veil of silence surrounded the investigation. Upon reading the report, one can postulate there was an apparent cover up somewhere that no one wanted to follow up on it anymore. I railed against the UAAP Board for not having balls (and I still think that they don't) to nail La Salle for this and they said that "tama na yung one-year suspension." One of those named in the report even called Mr. Puno to ask if he could stop writing about it. Tsk. Tsk.

Then there was that fight with DLSU in 2003 that was nearly the same as the San Beda-Letran fight about a week ago wherein it was started by some boorish Green Archer fans. And there is their hero Rafa Dinglasan, the original suntok-then-takbo. Yes we all know na kinuyog si Billy Del Rosario in 1989, but that was just as much as Billy's fault for taunting and it happened right in front of DLSU's bench. Wasn't it Dinglasan who repeated his feat when he ran from the stands and took a swipe at Ateneo's PT guy in 2003 -- from behind?

Apparently, Ryan Arana studied history as a subject for he pulled the same stunt on Wesley Gonzalez -- from behind -- before he decided it was better to dance.

And how can we even forget Manny Salgado!

Teka minute... someone texted me this.... okay now don't get sensitive here. The whole text reads, "I have decided to become an Iglesia ni CHRISTIU and La Salle is no longer Catholic because they decided to become PROTESTants."

Now back to the diatribe.

I know that trash talking is part of the game, but some of their players like Rico Maierhofer and PJ Walsham do things that can really hurt players. Maierhofer should have been thrown out for that flagrant foul on Mark Borboran (or was it Elmer Espiritu). Will the UAAP Board/Technical Committee review that sequence? May tuhod pa si Maierhofer pagkatapos. In the previous match with Ateneo, he almost tried the same stunt on Ford Arao.

And then there's Brian Ilad who pulled a Salgado of his own. From behind. Sabay tago.

You know, it's not fun playing these guys anymore. I wish they'd move to another league. They have elevated collegiate competition to cutthroat competition. As I like to say, they're a pro basketball team masquerading as a college team.

When Ferdinand fell -- deliberately -- on Ford Arao during the last game, the green gallery cheered. After Ilad's sucker punch, their crowd still cheered: "DLSU. Animo La Salle!" Class. Pure class.

Now if their players only attended them.

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