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, February 22, 2008

Talking football in Bangkok

It was a little intimidating hobnobbing with the top brass of Thailand's KPMG, AIG, SIFE, and HSBC not to mention some American and regional partners during cocktails at KPMG's corporate HQ but there we were. Some 30 of us at the 48th floor of the Empire Tower in Sathorn, Bangkok easily one of the tallest buildings in the area (the building goes up to the 50s) in a beautiful night with good weather. The view from the boardroom offers a spectacular view of Bangkok's lights and sights and traffic. It was great! Maybe not as great from the view of AIG Tower or the New World Hotel in Hong Kong, but great nonetheless.

I got to chat with Mr. Bellamy, a British expat who has been based in Asia and Thailand like forever. It was all about work before we drifted off to football. He was pleasantly surprised to meet a Filipino football fan and one so passionate at it. "I always thought that whenever I'd meet a Filipino we'd always have to talk about basketball," he said. Not that he didn't like hoops. Far from it, he was an NBA fanatic as well. But of course, the world game was dear to his heart.

One of the regional managers who hired me, Dennis Lee is from Singapore. We share two similarities... we both root for Liverpool FC and share the same birthdays. Of course that isn't the reason why I'm working for them.

I was down with the flu since Saturday night (Feb 17) and the evening three-hour flight from Manila to Suvarnabhumi Airport didn't help. In case you all didn't know, I suffer from travel sickness. It causes nausea and triggers massive headaches. In spite of that, it doesn't damper my enthusiasm for travel. There are days when I deal with it better and there are days when I don't. This is one of the latter.

But we were all up at 3:30am to watch Inter Milan pay a visit to Anfield for the first time since 1965 when Bill Shankly was still managing the Merseyside team. It seemed destined to go into a scoreless draw and an advantage to Inter since the next leg would be at the San Siro not a friendly place for opposing teams to play just like Anfield. But the Reds got two goals in the final five minutes from Dirk Kuyt and a fantastic strike from Steven Gerrard that skirted right through Inter Milan defenders.

Personally, I thought that the two yellow cards offered to Marco Materazzi were a shame as Fernando Torres either tripped by himself or did a good bit of acting, but I guess it was equal since the referee didn't call two obvious handballs inside the Italian team's box. Whether those were make up calls (of which the commentators thought they were), we'll never know. But what's it with these refs? I thought that in yesterday's finals game between FEU and Ateneo, he should have called a foul on the Tams' Jason Cordova would dropped Gerard Cancio inside the penalty area.

But anyways, my conversation drifted off to our best elevens:
keeper: Peter Schmeichel
defenders: Paolo Maldini, Roberto Carlos, John Terry, Alessandro Nesta
midfielders: Zinedine Zidane, John Barnes, Marcel Desailly, Steven Gerrard
forwards/strikers: Ian Rush, Diego Maradona

Shopping in Bangkok looking for football shops, there's the Arsenal store in Central World (the Francesc Fabregas kit costs like 3,300 baht), Star Soccer in Discovery Center (with a Fernando Torres kit for 3,25 baht and dozens and dozens of dvds on Real Madrid, LFC, ManU, Arsenal, Brasil, and lots of others), Junior's Sports in MBK (with a huge line of Class A name kits from Milan's Maldini, Chelsea's Ballack and Shevchenko, Manchester United's Ronaldo, Rooney, and believe or not, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Barca's Eto'o, Ronaldinho, and Henry, and lots more.

Of course there are the regular stores from adidas that carries at least a dozen kits. The only name kits they have are Beckham's Galaxy and Nakamura's Japanese national team.

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